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11 Edgewood Apartments evacuated during maintenance room fire in building

January 06, 2013|By JULIE E. GREENE | julieg@herald-mail.com
  • No one was hurt in a fire at Edgewood Apartments off Dual Highway and North Edgewood Drive, but residents from 11 apartments were evacuated while firefighters put the blaze out.
No one was hurt in a fire at Edgewood Apartments off Dual Highway and North Edgewood Drive, but residents from 11 apartments were evacuated while firefighters put the blaze out.

Several residents at Edgewood Apartments stood outside in roughly 44-degree weather for about two hours Sunday after a fire in a basement maintenance room resulted in the evacuation of 11 apartments, according to a Hagerstown Fire Department battalion chief.

No one was hurt in the fire, which was reported at 11:40 a.m., Hagerstown Battalion Chief Mark A. Cleck said. The apartment building complex is off Dual Highway and North Edgewood Drive, behind the Hampton Inn Hagerstown.

The cause of the fire had not yet been determined, Hagerstown Fire Marshal Doug DeHaven said Sunday afternoon.

Cleck said the fire was contained to a basement room, which he described as a workroom or building maintenance room. He said he was not aware of anyone working in the room at the time of the fire at 1734 Edgewood Hill Circle.

Sections 1734 and 1736 at the apartment complex share that area, which contains the maintenance room and a laundry room, but the fire was on the 1734 side, DeHaven said.

A monetary estimate of the damage caused by the fire was not available yet, DeHaven said.

Residents in sections 1734 and 1736 were allowed back in their apartments at about 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Cleck said. Firefighters had been checking to make sure there was no remaining fire or smoke before allowing residents to return to their homes, he said.

Some residents tried to put out the fire before firefighters arrived, DeHaven said.

Erick Keplinger, 33, said after a neighbor knocked on his third-floor door, he told his family to grab some clothes and get out of the building.

Keplinger said he then grabbed a fire extinguisher and ran to the basement, where there was gray smoke coming from the last door on the right. He said he felt the door, like he was taught in school, and it was warm. He opened the door and smoke rolled out, he said.

When he used the fire extinguisher, the smoke turned black, so he got out of there as another neighbor was running in, Keplinger said.

Some residents were still wearing their sleepwear when they were evacuated. Some sat in parked cars in an attempt to keep warm.

The temperature in the Hagerstown area at the time was 43 to 44 degrees, according to local weather observer Greg Keefer’s website at http://i4weather.net.

DeHaven said more than one person activated the manual fire alarm in the apartment building. The alarm system is not connected to the 911 dispatch center, he said.

The building does not have a sprinkler system, Cleck said. Older apartment buildings, like Edgewood Apartments, are grandfathered in and are not required to have sprinkler systems, he said. New construction, for apartment buildings, must have sprinkler systems, he said.

DeHaven said the apartments had smoke detectors, but the fire didn’t extend to any apartments. He said he wasn’t sure if there was enough smoke to cause those smoke detectors to activate.

Resident Simone Mays said she called 911.

“’Cause I heard a scream, ‘Call 911. Fire.’ And I did,” said Mays, who was standing outside in a white bathrobe. The floor the fire was on is considered the first floor or basement, she said.

Mays’ three boys were sitting in a parked car beside her as she spoke to a reporter. Her husband also got out of the apartment, she said.

Mays said the family had just finished breakfast when she heard the scream.

Afrail Akhmedov, 27, said a neighbor knocked on his apartment door at 1734 Edgewood Hill Circle to let his family know about the fire.

“I was asleep actually,” said Akhmedov. In addition to Akhmedov, his parents, brother, and two children were in the apartment and go out safely, he said.

Akhmedov said he knocked on another neighbor’s door to tell her to leave the apartment building.

That neighbor, Dorothy Kight, was standing outside holding her Yorkshire terrier, Toby, after evacuating the building.

Kight said she smelled something like wood smoke, but it was a faint smell. Then Akhmedov knocked on her door, she said.

In addition to Hagerstown Fire Department, the Funkstown Volunteer Fire Co., Community Rescue Service and the Washington County Air Unit responded to the fire, DeHaven said.

Anyone with information about the fire may contact the fire marshal’s office at 301-790-2476 or send an email to firemarshal@hagerstownmd.org, DeHaven said.

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