1ST Responder Newspaper - MA
Lightning Strike Sparks Two-Alarm Blaze, Displacing 74 Residents Funkstown, MD - On the evening of August 22nd, Washington County had a severe thunderstorm roll through the area. Shortly after 8:00 P.M., Washington County 911 began JUMP TO FILE # receiving 911 calls 082517116 reporting a building fire at Woodbridge North Apartments located at 11565 Robinwood Dr., just east of Hagerstown. Washington County prealerted Box 10-8 for the call at 8:08 P.M., as numerous calls reporting the blaze began to flood the 911 Center. Captain Eddie Carpenter of Washington County Special Operations was in the area and radioed into dispatch that he had heavy fire conditions with fire through the roof and requested the Safety Assignment to be started. Several witnesses stated that they heard a loud bang and felt the building shake just before the fire alarm system activated, while others reported seeing lightning strike the building. All residents in the apartment building were able to quickly evacuate as the fire quickly spread across the roof and through the attic. Heavy smoke could be seen against the night sky as crews approached the scene. Hagerstown’s Engine 3 and Truck 1 were the first units to arrive, finding a three-story apartment building in the process of being evacuated, with the roof fully engulfed in flames. Captain Trayer Stoops from Hagerstown F.D. arrived on the scene and established Robinwood Drive Command. Paramedic 75-1 conducted a 360 of the building for command, finding heavy fire showing on side "Charlie". Engine 3’s crew had the evacuation group and worked to assist the occupants exiting the building while Truck 1 worked with the Engine operator to set up for aerial operations. Command requested the evacuation tone to be sounded and called for all personnel to evacuate the structure. Command announced that crews would be operating in a full defensive mode and requested the second-alarm to be started. Firefighters battling the twoalarm blaze were hampered by poor water pressure issues while working to establish ladder pipe operations. Command assigned Battalion Chief Grimm as water supply supervisor and requested a Tanker Taskforce to assist with water supply operations. Heavy fire conditions ripped through the third-floor, destroying the entire top floor of the structure. Command reported at 8:45 P.M. that ladder pipe operations were in place, the full roof had collapsed, and that they had heavy fire throughout the 3rd Division. With the heavy fire conditions, a second Tanker Taskforce was requested to the scene to assist with
water supply operations. Nearly 100 firefighters battled the fire for just over an hour before the flames were able to be brought under control by three aerial trucks conducting ladder pipe operations. The bulk of the fire on Division 3 was knocked by 9:11 P.M., at which time firefighters were able to re-enter the structure, switching to an offensive operation. With the bulk of the fire knocked, several tankers on the assignment were able to be released from the incident by Command. Firefighters did a complete search of the building for victims which came up negative. Upon completion of their search, crews began conducting overhaul operations, opening the walls looking for extension and hosing down hot spots. At 11:13 P.M., all crews were pulled from the building and Command had the aerial trucks conduct a full Hydraulic Overhaul of the 3rd Division. The third-floor of the apartment building was completely destroyed by the flames, and the first and second floor apartments sustained heavy smoke and water damage. All occupants that were home at the time of the blaze were able to safely evacuate that night. One resident was transported to Meritus Medical Center due to a previous medical condition and has since been released from the hospital. A team of multiple organizations are working with the American Red Cross to assist the residents displaced by the fire. The Seventh-Day Adventist Church opened its doors that night and Washington County Commuter came out to transport the residents to the Church, where Red Cross set up their operations. Food donations from Noralli’s Pizza, FedEx, and State Farm were received by the emergency responders, along with other donations received from Star Community Center, Hub City Vineyard Church and other individual donations received at Seventh-Day Adventist Church. A “Go Fund Me” page was also set up at https://www.gofundme.com/wood bridge-apartments-fire-relief. A team of investigators from the Maryland State Fire Marshal’s Office were on the scene late Tuesday night and returned the next morning to continue their investigation to determine a cause of the devastating fire. The point of origin in the 37-unit apartment building was determined and the cause was confirmed to be from a lightning strike. Investigators reported that lightning struck the roof which immediately set the roof and the attic on fire. The alarm and sprinkler system for the building did activate, but the fire started on the roof and in the attic that was not sprinklered. State Fire Marshals also confirmed that all 74 residents have been accounted for, and other than the one occupant
Heavy fire conditions engulf the roof as firefighters work to battle the blaze.
Firefighters set up a Tanker Dump Site along Robinwood Dr. during Woodbridge Fire.
transported for a pre-existing medical issue, no other injuries were reported. Emergency personnel from over 20 departments across Washington County responded to the blaze. Funkstown Fire Co.10 received assistance on Box 10-8 from Hagerstown FD Command Staff, Independent Junior Engine 3, Pioneer Hook & Ladder Truck 1, First Hagerstown Hose Engine 1, Antietam Fire Special Unit 32, South End Fire Engine 5, Mt. Aetna Fire Co.16, Halfway Fire & EMS Co.26, Leitersburg Fire Co.9, Smithsburg Fire Co.7, Long
Meadow Fire Co.27, Maugansville Fire Co.13, Boonsboro Fire Co.6, Sharpsburg Fire Co.1, Fairplay Fire District 12, Clear Spring Fire Co.4, Community Rescue Service Co.75, Washington County Special Operations 20, Washington County DES Command Staff, Washington County Volunteer Fire & Rescue Safety Officer 204, Washington County Air Unit 25, Washington County Rehab Unit 255, Washington County Fire Police, Washington County Sheriff Department, and Hagerstown City Auxiliary Police. Additional assistance was re-
ceived from several departments out of Frederick County and Jefferson County, West Virginia who responded with units to cover the area while crews were committed on the call. Some of those departments from Frederick County transferring in that night were Brunswick EMS Co.19, Myersville Fire Co.8, Independent Hose Co.1, Thurmont Fire Co.10, and Jefferson County Blue Ridge Mountain Fire Co.5. - WILLIAM KING