Pepco crew probably saved young boy from house fire

October 17, 2012

A Pepco crew, including a lineman who ran into a burning house, may have saved a sleeping boy’s life Wednesday, fire department officials said.

Toxic smoke from the kitchen of the home in the 2600 block of Ritchie-Marlboro Road in Upper Marlboro could have endangered the 3-year-old boy upstairs if Ryan Callahan and other members of his Pepco crew had not fought the flames, according to county fire department spokesman Mark Brady.

In an interview, Callahan said he had been installing wires at the two-story single-family house for about five minutes when his colleagues noticed smoke coming from the roof about 9 a.m.

The crew members entered the house, yelling to see if anyone was inside, Brady said. They then traced the flames to the first-floor kitchen where, Brady said, the fire had spread from a trash can to cabinets and a propane stove.

The crew shut off the propane line and put out most of the flames with a chemical extinguisher, Brady said.

Malebogo Munamunungu, the boy’s mother, said she was shocked to see her home burning when she returned from taking her other children, ages 7 and 9, to meet a school bus at the end of their driveway. She rushed into the house with Callahan to retrieve her son.

Inside, Callahan said the smoke was so thick he couldn’t see. Munamunungu disappeared upstairs, he said, and “I got a little nervous.”

He followed a crew member’s voice to get out, and Munamunungu emerged with her son moments later.

Firefighters soon arrived and finished extinguishing the fire, Brady said. The fire caused $10,000 to $15,000 in damage, but the family will still be able to live in the house.

Munamunungu said she and her family are unharmed, but are confused about what caused the fire.

“When I left home, everything was fine,” she said.

Pepco workers are trained to deal with pole fires, but not house fires, Callahan said. He credited his crew’s ability to help the family to “common sense [and] basic knowledge.”

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