Five firefighters injured in blaze

Firefighters Michele McCutchen, Simeon Hammett and Capt. Tom Geisler, all from Baltimore City Engine 30, rest after helping to fight a four-alarm fire that engulfed two 11-unit apartment buildings in the Queens Ridge Apartment Complex in the Woodlawn area. Five other firefighters were injured. (Sun photo by Amy Davis / March 3, 2008)
Reported on March 4, 2008…..
A four-alarm blaze in the Woodlawn area yesterday afternoon destroyed two apartment buildings in a residential neighborhood and sent five firefighters to the hospital with heat exhaustion, burns and other minor injuries, Baltimore County fire officials said.

Another man was taken to the hospital for smoke inhalation, fire officials said. The man’s injury was not believed to be serious.

The fire began about 2:30 p.m. in the first block of Giard Drive at the Queens Ridge Apartments. Elise Armacost, a Fire Department spokeswoman, said the burned buildings contained 11 apartments each, and that no residents had been reported missing as of last night.

Armacost said fire officials will not be certain everyone got out safely until a search is conducted.

“They made a valiant effort to go into it but had to go back because it was so much fire, it was unsafe to them,” Armacost said.

A spokesman for the American Red Cross said the organization is helping about 15 families displaced by the fire.

Firefighters battled the blaze well into the evening, as neighbors and residents looked on. Fire officials said the damage to the building where the fire originated was so severe that investigators will not be allowed inside. That building will have to be demolished, and the rubble will be searched.

A steady afternoon wind spread the fire quickly and kept firefighters from entering the building where it started. The burned dwellings, which residents and fire officials called Building No. 7 and Building No. 9, are attached.

Fire investigators are not sure what ignited the blaze, which started in Building No. 7.

Jerson Peralta, 30, said he lived on the first floor of that building. Peralta was at work when the fire began, but his wife was home and left their apartment when she heard the alarm, he said.

The firefighters’ injuries are thought to be minor; further details were not available. Fire officials said about 30 engines and 120 firefighters, along with other personnel, were at the scene.

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