Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Fire causes $25,000 in damage to daycare center

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Kindercare Child Care Center at 16910 Georgia Ave. in Olney sustained $25,000 in damages in a fire Sunday morning.

Units responded to an automated fire alarm at 8:15 a.m. The center is located directly across from Sandy Spring Volunteer Fire Department Station 40.

When firefighters arrived at the daycare center, they found heavy smoke in the building and called for additional units. Eventually, 45 firefighters were dispatched to the scene, fire officials said.

Firefighters found fire in a utility closet, which had extended to the surrounding areas, fire officials reported.

‘‘A nearby water pipe had broken due to the intense heat and helped to squelch the fire,” Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service spokesman Pete Piringer said.

It appears the fire was accidental, caused by combustibles placed too close to a gas-fueled water heater, Piringer said.

The building is fitted with a sprinkler system, but it did not activate.

‘‘It was apparently turned off after some recent servicing,” Piringer said. ‘‘Fortunately, the broken pipe helped; it had the same effect as a sprinkler.”

Piringer said the building’s owner was issued a Notice of Violation for a non-working sprinkler system.

A woman who answered the telephone at Kindercare on Monday morning refused to comment on the incident. She also would not comment on whether the center was closed.

Piringer said property owners usually have three chances to correct the violation. If the work is not completed at that time, the owners can be issued a criminal citation, given a heavy fine or the business could be shut down, he said.

Southbound lanes on Georgia Avenue between Old Baltimore and Emory Church roads were closed for over an hour while firefighters battled the blaze.

There were no injuries and the building was unoccupied at the time of the incident, fire officials reported.

Smoke detectors in the building were working and did alert the alarm company, who notified the fire department, Piringer said.

Fire investigators and fire code enforcement personnel continue to investigate the fire.