Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Fire displaces 45 at apartment complex

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Forty-five people were displaced from a Silver Spring apartment building on July 4 when an electrical fire in the attic broke out into the top floor.

As of Monday, most of the residents at the Ashford at Woodlake apartments, 14175 Castle Blvd., had been relocated to other apartments in the complex, and Red Cross is assisting others to find temporary housing, said Pete Piringer, a spokesman for Montgomery County Fire and Rescue. Management at the apartments could not be immediately reached for comment.

The fire in the fourth-floor attic of the building, located in the Briggs Chaney neighborhood, was likely caused by short in the electrical distribution system of the building, which is ‘‘a fancy way of saying where all the wires come together and go out to wherever they’re going,” Piringer said.

Piringer said the fire smoldered in the walls for a while. Residents smelled smoke around noon, but could not see it. A short time later, the power went out and they called the power company. Residents called 911 a few minutes later when they started seeing smoke, which was when the fire broke out from the walls, Piringer said.

Fifty-five Montgomery County firefighters arrived on the scene about 4 p.m. Friday, along with some from Prince George’s County.

No injuries were reported, and the fire did not spread beyond the top floor, Piringer said. Still, it caused $350,000 in damage, he said.

As soon as the fire was reported, power to the entire building was shut down, causing the alarm system to not work, Piringer said.

The operators of the apartment complex did not return a call seeking comment.