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Fire damages Abingdon apartments Tuesday, 23 people displaced

Multiple fire companies responded to an apartment fire in the 500 block of Eastview Terrace in Abingdon Tuesday morning. (David Anderson / BSMG)

Twenty-three tenants of an Abingdon apartment complex have been displaced because of a Tuesday-morning fire that caused extensive damage to their building.

One person suffered minor injuries, was taken to University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Medical Center in Bel Air, treated and later released, according to a notice of investigation from the Office of the State Fire Marshal.

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The fire was reported around 9 a.m., and it was placed under control buy 10:15 a.m., according to Harford County fire officials. The building is in the 500 block of Eastview Terrace in the The Douglas at Constant Friendship apartment complex.

The Harford County Volunteer Fire & EMS Association reported on its media Facebook page around 9 a.m. that multiple companies had responded to the scene.

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"Crews arrived with fire showing from the third floor area and deck," the association reported. The fire went to a second alarm.

The three-story building had 12 apartment units. The fire started on the balcony of Unit 11, which is occupied by Gary McDonough, according to the fire marshal's report.

The cause was "discarded smoking materials" on the balcony. The flames spread from there, up the vinyl siding and to the building's common attic, according to the NOI.

Initial reports of person trapped in the building were determined to be unfounded, Gardiner said.

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Six apartment units were damaged, according to Gardiner. The worst damage was in the apartments on the top floor of the three-story structure, where portions of the roof had collapsed.

Larry Beck and John Wenger, who live on a nearby court, were among the first on the scene.

Beck was having coffee on his deck when he heard people yelling "Fire, fire."

He and Wenger ran over to see how they could help and discovered the residents who were home had gotten out.

"It was fully engulfed on the third floor," Beck said. "You could stand on the ground in front of the building and feel the heat."

Wenger said he spoke with a resident who said her daughter's medications were still in their second floor apartment, so he ran inside and grabbed them.

Residents knew that a dog lived in the apartment where they believe the fire started, and two of the people who manage the complex kicked down the door and got the dog out safely, Wenger said.

Responding units came from Abingdon, Bel Air, Joppa-Magnolia and Aberdeen Proving Ground in Harford County and Kingsville and White Marsh in Baltimore County.

Once the fire was under control, firefighters conducted salvage operations, spraying water on the burned parts of the structure and stomping out small fires that flared up on the balconies.

Residents of the building and their neighbors stood outside and watched as the firefighters worked.

Neighbors Shannon Grosholz and Sylvia Weisman said they rushed outside when they heard people screaming.

"Everybody was running around, screaming, and all the boys [firefighters] showed up — pretty quick response, too," Grosholz said.

She recalled seeing "flames shooting out of the ceiling, smoke just everywhere, really thick, heavy smoke."

She and Weisman praised the fire companies' quick response.

"Even Aberdeen Proving Ground was here in five, six minutes, and they did a wonderful job," Weiseman said.

Harford County Disaster Assistance and the American Red Cross is assisting the displaced residents.

The Red Cross is providing food, emergency supplies, casework and mental health services to the affected residents, according to a news release from the organization's Greater Chesapeake Region.



Harford County’s “Choose Civility” campaign kicked off with a breakfast event at the Water’s Edge Events Center in Belcamp on Wednesday.

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