A Fort Washington house fire claimed the life of a husband and wife late Thursday night.  Just after 11:30 pm, Thursday, March 8, 2018 a neighbor called 911 to report a nearby house was on fire.  Firefighters arrived in the 500 block of Round Table Drive and encountered a 2-story split-level single family home with fire showing throughout the structure.  First arriving firefighters were able to make a brief attempt at an interior attack and search of the structure.  Although the efforts were hampered by excessive storage conditions on the interior firefighters located an adult male and female near the foyer of the house.  Medics performed pre-hospital emergency resuscitative measures but were never able to regain spontaneous pulse or breathing.  The husband, 75 years-of-age, and wife, 80 years-of-age, were pronounced on the scene just after midnight, Friday, March 9th.

Due to the well advanced fire combined with the unsafe interior conditions all firefighters were evacuated from the burning home and continued to battle the fire from the safety of exterior positions.  Once the bulk of the fire was knocked down from the outside firefighters re-entered the home to complete the extinguishment and start the task of overhaul, which included the removal of the excessive storage of materials.

During fire suppression a firefighter experienced a sudden onset of respiratory distress and was transported to an area hospital.  This firefighter has since been released from the hospital.  No other injuries were reported.

It appears the fire started in the lower level of the house, however, the cause remains under investigation.  Firefighters could not locate a working smoke alarm in the house.  Fire loss is estimated at $150,000.

Fire Investigators will typically wait for an autopsy to positively identify the deceased and release their cause and origin findings.  Family members have gone on record with the identity of their parents.

These are the 2nd and 3rd residential fire related fatalities in Prince George’s County this calendar year.  There were a total of 5 such deaths in 2017.  All of the residential fire deaths with accidental origins in 2017 and to date 2018 have occurred in homes without a working smoke alarm.

This Sunday residents are asked to move their clocks forward 1-hour and firefighters also remind residents that it is a good time to check their smoke alarms as well.  Maryland residents are reminded to have 10-year smoke alarms on every level of your home, primarily, in hallways just outside of sleeping areas.  Additionally, 10-year smoke alarms should be installed in every bedroom and residents should close their bedroom doors when they go to sleep.

Regardless of the type of smoke alarm you have, test your alarms on the Safety First Day of every month to ensure it is working.  In addition to having working smoke alarms an escape plan should be planned and practiced with all home occupants identifying 2-ways out of every room in your house and a safe meeting place outside.

Prince George’s County residents that need a 10-year smoke alarm installed in their home and can not afford to purchase one themselves should call 311 and ask about the free smoke alarm installation program.

Mark E. Brady, Chief Spokesperson

MEBrady@co.pg.md.us     @PGFDPIO