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22 Disppaced in 2 Alarm Apartment Fire

By JAMES RUSSUM, Correspondent | January 18, 2022 | MARYLAND

Story No. 012322106

On Tuesday, January 18, 2022, at 10:40 pm, the Chestertown Volunteer Fire Company, along with multiple mutual aid companies, was dispatched to the 11100 block of Old Worton Road, at the corner of Lambs Meadow Road, for the structure fire. This immediate neighborhood is adjacent to Butlertown, with the intersection and associated buildings referred to as Catt’s Corner.

First arriving, a career paramedic with Kent County EMS, reported a multi-family apartment style building with heavy fire showing from the rear, and with fire through the roof. The paramedic immediately started the process of accounting for all the occupants. It was quickly determined that everyone was out of the building.

Chestertown VFC personnel had just cleared a previous call, regarding a leaking propane tank. Crews were still at the station cleaning up and repacking equipment when this call was dispatched. As such, we were able to respond extremely fast. Considering the weather, along with personal familiarity with the structure, the Incident Commander (Chestertown Fire Chief John “Otis” Darling) requested a Tanker Task Force for this fire.

A Tanker Task Force, designed to meet the water-supply needs of a fire in non-hydrant areas, is composed of four (4) fire department tankers, and a fire engine. It provides the Fire Officer with the flexibility to establish a seamless source of water for firefighting operations. This neighborhood is provided with a municipal water & fire hydrant system. Ordinarily, water supply would not have been a concern. However, the recent frigid weather conditions have caused problems for your local fire companies. During the previously mentioned leaking propane tank, Chestertown VFC crews dealt with a frozen fire hydrant, impacting the timely establishment of a water supply. With this information freshly imprinted, Chief Darling elected to err on the side of caution and request a Tanker Task Force.

Once at the fire scene, with the magnitude of the fire personally evident, Chief Darling requested a 2nd Alarm. It was evident additional resources would be needed to control this fire.

Deploying handlines, along with raising our Tower 6 elevating platform to the roof (for vertical ventilation) it quickly became apparent crews could not directly access the apartment that was on fire. The fire had compromised the floor of its porch, the only normal means of access. The floor of said porch was weak, with the very real danger of personnel falling through. When this fact was ascertained, ladders were thrown to windows of the affected apartment unit. Firefighters went up and through those windows, where they quickly gained control of all visible fire.

During this operation, one firefighter and one civilian were injured, with both sustaining leg injuries. Both were transported by ambulance to the University of Maryland, Shore Medical Center at Chestertown with non-life-threatening injuries. At the time of this release, the Chestertown VFC firefighter has been treated and released. We do not have the condition, nor the civilian’s hospitalization status.

While the fire was in progress, we received an offer from Kent County Parks & Recreation to use the Kent County Community Center as a shelter / first aid center. We quickly took advantage of this offer. The refugees were evacuated to this location where they were in a secure, warm location. Here, Kent County EMS resources, both volunteer and career, could assess the status of these fire victims, and determine their needs.

Due to fire, smoke and water damage, this fire displaced a total of 22 residents. That includes fifteen (15) adults and seven (7) children. The American Red Cross was contacted on their behalf. This agency is actively working to ensure these fire victims are cared for… that they have warm, safe accommodations until they can make adequate long term arrangements.

Unfortunately, the demands of the firefighting operations required the closure of both Lambs Meadow Road (Maryland 298) and Old Worton Road. Lambs Meadow Road (Maryland 298) remained closed until approximately 12:50 am, just over two (2) hours. The amount of water dropped on the road, with the sub-freezing temperatures, caused hazardous icing conditions. We anticipated this, we knew this would cause hazardous conditions. A salt truck was requested. Our thanks to the Kent County Roads Department for sending a truck. They patiently waited until all was clear. They treated the roadway, guaranteeing safety for our motoring public.

Early during the fire, the power company was requested. Delmarva Power responded and cut the electric power to the entire structure.

Because of the seriousness of this fire, the Maryland State Fire Marshals Office was requested. Several Deputy Fire Marshals responded. The incident was turned over to the MSFMO. Deputy Fire Marshals are conducting an Origin & Cause Investigation. The results of that investigation were not available at the time of this release.

Our thank to the Sudlersville VFC for standing by at our station!
Photographs by the Chestertown VFC. Media may use photographs with attribution.
Companies & Organizations dispatched to this fire…
Chestertown VFC
Betterton VFC
Kennedyville VFC
Rock Hall VFC
Galena VFC
The Community VFC of Millington, Maryland
Church Hill VFC
Crumpton VFC
Sudlersville VFC
Cecilton VFC
Kent & Queen Annes Rescue Squad
Kent County EMS
Delmarva Power
American Red Cross
Kent County Road Department

This article is a direct street report from our correspondent and has not been edited by the 1st Responder newsroom.