This story was updated at 12:20 p.m. on July 13, 2012.
Tim Chisley awoke to the sound of alarms and his neighbor's screams Friday morning as a fire broke out in the Burtonsville apartment complex where he lives.
Chisley said he fled his Castle Boulevard apartment with other residents shortly before 7:30 a.m. Friday and saw the apartment adjoining his ablaze, and his neighbors trapped on their third-floor patio by flames. He said he could only watch.
“They were there screaming and yelling,” Chisley said. “I felt helpless because I couldn't help them.”
Montgomery County fire and rescue officials say firefighters rescued 17 people from the fire, which started in a ground-floor apartment in the building, located at 14005 Castle Blvd. More than 100 firefighters from Montgomery County and nearby Howard and Prince George's counties worked to extinguish the blaze.
No one was sent to the hospital and only minor injuries were reported.
Firefighters were dispatched to the 14000 block of Castle Boulevard at 7:23 a.m. for reports of a fire in the lower portions of a three-story garden-style apartment building at Woodlake Apartments, said Capt. Oscar Garcia, a spokesman for the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service.
"When units arrived, the fire was showing from the rear of the building on the first floor and extending to the top of the building to the roof," Garcia said. "Several residents were trapped on the top floors of the building and firefighters did perform several rescues."
Jason Guinn and his family were also awakened by screams from the neighbors and the sound of a fire alarm. He said he looked out his window and saw flames and heard the crackling of burning wood from his neighbor's apartment.
“It got real pretty quickly,” he said.
The fire affected both the Woodlake Apartments and an adjoining building, Garcia said.
“Everybody was either safely evacuated or rescued by firefighters," he said.
Assistant Chief Scott Graham said 74 people were displaced by the fire. The American Red Cross is currently working with apartment management representatives from the Donaldson Group to assist displaced residents.
“It appears the fire began in a first-floor apartment,” Graham said.
The cause of the fire is believed to have been sparked by an electrical malfunction in the apartment where the fire originated, according to fire officials. Damage is estimated at $1.5 million.