Three Montgomery County, MD Firefighters in Close Call Collapse

Source: Scene Reports & MCFRS Press Report

Three Montgomery County, Maryland firefighters were injured when a catastrophic floor collapse occurred while fighting an apartment fire that also claimed the life of a civilian.

Firefighters from Rockville and the surrounding area were dispatched to the 12800 block of Twinbrook Parkway shortly before 1 a.m. Saturday and arrived with heavy fire showing from the second and third floors of the building, extending to the attic space with multiple civilian rescues.

As an Engine and Tower crew were making an aggressive interior fire attack, a second and third alarm were sounded bringing units from throughout the county. Numerous EMS units were on the scene.

The floor collapse occurred within about ten minutes of the first units arriving, spokesman Pete Piringer said in a statement. Two of the three crew members were dropped from the third floor into the seat and origin of the fire on the second level.

A Mayday was immediately called and all efforts not already focused on civilian rescues were switched to rapid intervention and rescue of the trapped firefighters from the first arriving engine crew from Company 723. Two members of the crew escaped the intense blaze by jumping out of a second story window to the ground below, sustaining serious injuries.

Command immediately requested a helicopter for Medevac. The Captain from the engine company, one of the two to jump from the second floor, advised other crews that the whereabouts of the third firefighter were still unknown and he was still possibly inside.

Rapid intervention crews went to work immediately. Within a few minutes, he was located and assisted in exiting the building via the interior. Accountability checks at that time revealed all crews whereabouts were known.

At about the same time rescues were being made by other crews who located a victim in a second floor apartment, near the front door. He was removed, but succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced dead on the scene. He is being identified as Timothy Moran, age 50. Mr. Moran was the single occupant of the second floor apartment. Fire and Explosive Investigators believe this is where the fire originated. One other resident was rescued and transported to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries. A total of four residents were rescued by firefighters.

Fire Captain/Paramedic R. Dwayne Dutrow, age 38, a 17-year veteran, was flown to the MedStar Burn Unit at Washington Hospital Center. His injuries are serious, but not life threatening. Firefighter James Heikka, age 31, an 8-year veteran was also flown to the MedStar Burn Unit. His injuries are serious, but not life threatening. Both are being admitted. Firefighters Mark Mechlin, is in his 20’s and has been with the MCFRS for about one year,was transported by a medic unit to the MedStar Burn Unit. His injuries were less serious and he is expected to be treated and released.

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Comment by Judith Yap on May 6, 2008 at 10:06pm
I agree with you Deb, I felt sick when I heard about those two firemen, and saw the devastation. The whole community felt glum for a long time. It is a blessing that these firemen are able to be with their families and lives to fight another day
Comment by Deb RN/EMT on May 6, 2008 at 7:37pm
Several years ago, a similar incident occured here in the Southern Section of Onondaga Co. (NY) However, our outcome was not as 'good' (if you can call what these men now have to go thru 'good'). Two good firemen lost their lives that night because of the construction style of a house. Home builders and architects need to be held more accountable for the style of construction as well as the type of materials used in buildings they build. Only then can these types of incidents be decreased and/or eliminated entirely.
Comment by Bradley c1507 on May 5, 2008 at 9:09am
hope my fellow brothers form montgomery co. md get well soon keep your heads up your community still needs your help every day L8R
Comment by Keith on May 4, 2008 at 3:56pm
It is true about lightweight contruction; however, this wasn't the case. We're talking '50s-60s era ordinary construction. Not the engineered joists and joist hanger floors of today.

God Bless 23-B.
Comment by Judith Yap on May 4, 2008 at 12:26pm
My thoughts and prayers are with the brother's and their families from Montgomery Co. wishing them a speedy recovery.
Comment by Jeff Borra on May 4, 2008 at 11:44am
Hoping everyone is doing great.
Comment by Gary Walker on May 4, 2008 at 1:21am
Yes, same here in NZ Anthony. Lightweight, shoddy construction and cheap materials certainly contribute to fast burning fires. We are also having problems with leaky buildings for the same reasons.
Best wishes to the firefighters and their families.
Comment by Anthony Avillo on May 3, 2008 at 3:09pm
floor collapse seems to be a more common occurrence today than it was years ago
too much lightweight construction -- this must be recognized even before arrival with pre-fire familiarizations
makes a dangerous job even more dangerous

heal well brothers
Comment by Floyd Aldridge Jr on May 3, 2008 at 2:58pm
My thoughts and prayers to the brother's from Montgomery Co. Hope they get well soon!!
Comment by Claudio Shinya D on May 3, 2008 at 2:17pm
Mucha fuerza hermanos para las familias de estos heroes y para su compañia y que el señor los proteja como siempre lo ha hecho, con sus colaboradores que le ayudan a socorrer al desvalido cuando lo necesitan, Fuerza de todos los bomberos de mi Compañia 3ª de Temuco- Chile.

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