Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2007

House fire spreads to adjacent homes

Damages total more than $1 million, investigators say

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Officials on Tuesday were still investigating the cause of a Friday house fire in Takoma Park that spread to two adjacent homes and drew a large response from local fire departments.

Shortly before 2 p.m. Friday, a young woman who was sleeping inside the house at 130 Richie Ave. woke to the sound of her dog barking and saw smoke, said Lt. Dorcus Howard Richards of the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service

She left the house and quickly called authorities.

When firefighters arrived, smoke was visible from miles away and the fire had spread to two adjacent houses.

Jesse Davis and Kevin Day said they were driving nearby when they saw the smoke. Day, who used to be a volunteer firefighter, and Davis, who is a first responder, said they immediately recognized what was going on and called 911. ‘‘I knew what to look for, and I saw a fresh burning fire and there was no one around,” Day said.

Six-year-old Josiah Silvera was inside an adjacent home when the fire started.

‘‘I was saying, ‘Wow, it’s so hot in here and then I looked out the window and there was a fire,’” he said Friday while sucking on a Popsicle given to him by firefighters after the flames were put out. ‘‘I just ran to my dad and we went outside.”

Councilman Terry Seamens (Ward 4), who lives across the street, said he ran into the basement of 128 Richie Ave. to save a Scottie that was still inside.

‘‘The daughter of the family that lives there was shouting ‘My dog’s in there, my dog’s in there!’ So I went in and got the dog,” he said.

Richards said the fire was put out within an hour of teams responding. About 100 firefighters from Montgomery and Prince George’s counties responded to the call, she said, the equivalent of a three-alarm fire.

The fire caused more than $1 million worth of damage to the three structures and their contents, Richards said. The house of origin at 130 Richie Ave. was the most affected, sustaining an estimated $850,000 worth of damage, $600,000 of which was to the structure, Richards said.

After the flames were put out Friday, the back half of 130 Richie Ave. was almost completely burned out and blackened. As late as 4 p.m., water was still pouring out of its sides.

128 Richie Ave. and 132 Richie Ave. sustained damage to their structure and contents of about $200,000 and $25,000 respectively, Richards said.

The fire caused no injuries to residents. Richards said six firefighters sustained injuries, but that none of them were life-threatening. As of Monday, all firefighters had been treated and released.