More than 200 firefighters responded to a five alarm fire in College Park, Maryland today and more than eight hours later there were still hot spots requiring firefighter observation in the evening.
The blaze broke out about 9:30 a.m. on the fifth and sixth floors of Fuze 47, a high-rise mixed use apartment building under construction near U.S. 1. The fire prompted a partial roof collapse, local senior citizens to be evacuated, and nearby University of Maryland to close its campus.
The Washington Post reported that the fire service response was historic in nature, bringing together the resources of fire departments throughout Prince George's County. Prince George Fire said in a tweet that the fire is "one of, if not the largest fire suppression efforts in county history." Two firefighters suffered minor injuries in the blaze.
The apartment complex was nearly completed, however, there were no working fire sprinklers at the time. Like many apartment buildings under construction or renovation today, the building had lots of wood and empty spaces which contributed to the intensity of fire.
First responders were thwarted by the design of the building. The structure is considered doughnut-type construction, meaning there are four facades surrounding a courtyard, making fire truck and water access difficult. Fire commanders on the ground relied on police helicopter reports from above the scene to determine the location of the fire.
Smoke was heavy throughout the day and continued to cloud the region early into the evening.
Recently, there have been other high visibility fires occurring in apartment buildings under construction. To learn more about these incidents and NFPA fire safety construction requirements during construction, read this blog.