Md. fire station catches on fire
Three Montgomery County firefighters had just finished lunch Monday when their lieutenant approached with alarming instructions: Part of the station was on fire. Find it.
Things turned out OK. No one was hurt. A sprinkler system kept the blaze -- inside a basement maintenance room -- from getting out of hand.
Still, to extinguish the fire, the firefighters had to drive one of their own trucks out of the firehouse, park it, extend a hose back into the building and douse the fire for about 30 seconds, officials said. The fire burned a table, boxes and paramedic's supplies for a total loss tabbed of at least $5,000.
Fire "can definitely happen anywhere," said Montgomery fire department spokesman Oscar Garcia.
In this case, "anywhere" was Montgomery's Fire Station 21, near the corner of Veirs Mill Road and Parkland Drive. Construction workers are renovating the station. Monday afternoon, they were using a blow torch to remove an outside metal staircase in the back of the station, about 15 feet off the ground.
A spark appears to have made its way through a hole in the wall and descended into a former truck maintenance bay that is now largely used for storage, according to fire officials. One of the sparks landed on a table that held cardboard boxes, old cans of paint and rags, and caught on fire, Garcia said.
Several things then happened around the same time. The construction workers noticed the fire, and came around the front of the station as Lt. Jason Giza was returning from another call. "There's a fire," one of them said, according to Giza.
Giza could also hear a “water gong” signal, indicating the sprinklers had activated, and went to alert his colleagues.
The irony of a firehouse being on fire was hardly lost on Giza, but he said on Tuesday that je and the firefighters reacted as they would any blaze -- going into suppression mode. "It's what we do," he said.
Through the glazed windows of the maintenance bay, the firefighters could see flames. They had to use a sledgehammer to bust through the bay's tough-to-break safety glass. Smoke filled much of the room. Flames extended from the table to the ceiling.
The fire was large enough that Giza had called for additional trucks from nearby stations, but by the time they arrived the fire was out.
-- Dan Morse
January 13, 2010; 6:37 AM ET
Categories: Dan Morse , Fires & Fire Safety , Montgomery
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