Apartment building evacuated while firefighters extinguish fire, ventilate smoke

  • A firefighter is seen working to put out a small fire at Cortland Apartments on Little Elliott Drive Thursday in Hagerstown.
Photo by Raychel Harvey-Jones

An apartment building off Little Elliott Drive in Hagerstown was evacuated Thursday night after a small fire broke out inside one of the units, according to city fire official at the scene.

Battalion Chief Brian Pile said that flames broke out in the closet area of Apt. 7 of the second floor in the building at 12833 Cortland Apartments.

Damage was minimal, and it appeared that mostly clothes were destroyed before the building’s sprinkler system extinguished the blaze, Pile said.

“The sprinkler system did the job it is supposed to do tonight and this is a good reason for people to ensure that they are installed,” said Hagerstown Fire Department Captain Adam Hopkins.

An apartment below also suffered water damage, he said.

Olga Tifa the occupant of Apt. 7, said she alerted 911 as her apartment filled with smoke Thursday at around 9:23 p.m. She and her two children, ages 6 and 18, were in the apartment. They were all  unharmed.

“I am so glad I was at home so I could get my children out safely,” she said.

“I have lived here for four years, I am so upset and scared, I moved here from an apartment on Dual Highway as there was a fire there in 2009 and I didn’t feel safe,” Tifa said.

Tifa said the apartment filled with smoke and was coming out of the closet where the air conditioning unit is located.

“I have no idea what started the fire,” she said.

It took about an hour to ventilate smoke from the building, and tenants were still outside the apartment complex at 10:15 p.m.. awaiting the opportunity to return to their homes.  

Hagerstown Fire Marshal Doug DeHaven was on the scene investigating the cause of the fire, Pile said.

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