Boy, 4, dead in Montgomery Village apartment fire; dozens displaced -- Gazette.Net


This story was updated at 5:05 p.m., Jan. 9, 2014.

Forty people are still homeless after a fire in Montgomery Village on Wednesday afternoon that left a 4-year-old boy dead.

Officials late Thursday afternoon identified the boy as Lancelot Quarshie. The cause of his death was not released.

The fire at the Cider Mill Apartments in the 18200 block of Lost Knife Circle has been ruled accidental, according to Scott Graham, assistant chief with Montgomery County Fire and Rescue. Officials said the fire started in an apartment’s kitchen, but the cause is still undetermined as they continue their investigation.

Four people were taken to a local hospital from the garden-style apartment building — among them, a man in serious condition with life-threatening injuries, according to Scott Goldstein, a spokesman with the fire service. No update on the man’s condition was available Thursday.

Outside the three-story apartment building, a baby stroller and bright purple tricycle sat in a pile of ashes. The windows and entrances into the building have been boarded up with plywood.

The fire started shortly after 4 p.m. Wednesday, said fire service spokeswoman Beth Anne Nesselt.

Heavy smoke rose from the second floor. About 80 firefighters responded and the blaze was extinguished within 20 minutes.

Goldstein said it’s not certain when the 40 residents would be allowed back into their homes.

Patty Vasquez was among the residents standing outside their flame-scarred apartment building Wednesday evening as firefighters dumped buckets of ash and debris off a second-story balcony.

Vasquez, wearing sweatpants and a sweatshirt, said she had just brought her daughter home from school when the fire started. There was no time to pick up winter coats and hats before they had to evacuate.

“When there’s a fire, everybody runs out,” she said.

Residents who had not left the area were moved to a heated county medical ambulance bus in the parking lot, but Goldstein said they would have to find somewhere else to spend the night.

Twelve apartments were evacuated. The property manager declined to comment on the incident. A representative for the company that owns the apartments did not respond to calls.

Damage estimates are $750,000 to the structure and $300,000 to contents, according to Graham’s news release.

Firefighters will be in the area this week distributing information to residents about fire safety and offering to check smoke alarms, officials said Thursday. The program is part of the department’s “Safety in Our Neighborhood” community outreach educational campaign conducted by firefighters throughout the county each Saturday. Any resident who wants more information about the program or to have their smoke alarms checked may call 311 to schedule a visit by firefighters.