This story was updated on Feb. 26, 2012.
High winds Friday night contributed to turning a Riverdale house fire into a fire ball that injured seven Prince George's County firefighters, two of whom were still hospitalized Sunday morning, according to the county fire department.
The firefighters, from Bladensburg and Riverdale, were extinguishing a fire inside a one-story vacant home in the 6400 block of 57th Avenue a little after 9 p.m. when a gust of air fanned the flames, creating the fire ball that surrounded the firefighters, said Mark Brady, a spokesman for the department.
"There was a sudden addition of air into the fire environment," Brady said. "It took all they had to exit the house."
Two firefighters from Bladensburg Fire/EMS Station #803, 21-year-old Ethan Sorrell and 22-year-old Kevin O’Toole, were hospitalized and remained in critical but stable condition Sunday morning. Sorrell was diagnosed with burns to his airway, and O’Toole had second- and third-degree burns on 40 percent of his body, according to the fire department.
Another firefighter, 19-year-old Michael McClary from the Riverdale Fire/EMS Station #807, was released Saturday night from the hospital, where he was being treated for bruised ribs, according to the department.
All three men were taken to the burn unit of the Washington Hospital Center in Washington, D.C., Brady said.
Four others were treated and released Friday night.
“My thoughts and prayers are with these brave men and their families,” Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D) said in a statement released Saturday.
“Our first responders put their lives on the line every day, and I know that they are all affected by this tragic incident. I appreciate their service and their commitment to our residents’ safety and security.”
The firefighters on scene Friday called for reinforcements, and about 65 firefighters and paramedics arrived at the home and extinguished the fire by about 9:35 p.m., Brady said.
The fire department's investigation will look into the cause of the fire as well as who owns the home, where there was a car in the driveway.