Two men were killed in a Cheverly apartment yesterday when ether they were apparently using to make the illegal hullucinogenic drug PCP ignited accidentally and the apartment burst into flames.
Neighbors living in the Cheverly Terrace development reported hearing a cry for help from inside the apartment at 6409 Landover Rd., followed by the sound of an explosion.
Then, they said, looking through a terrace door they saw flames leap from the floor to the ceiling of the ground level apartment.
One neighbor reportedly tried to go to the men's aid, but according to another, "there was nothing he could do."
The victims were identified by Prince George's County fire officials as Ronnie Dennis Sprouse, 24, and his brother, Ray Walter Sprouse Sr., 35, both of Riva, Md.
In a statement issued last night, fire officials listed the cause of the blaze as the "accidental ignition of ether being used in the manufacture of PCP." The statement said the men were by themselves in the apartment at the time of the fire.
In recent years the Washington area has become known as a center for the manufacture of PCP or phencyclidine, which is known on the street as angel dust or killer weed.
The drug is a potent halucinogen popular among young people who believe incorrectly that it is less harmful than LSD or amphetamines.
Fire officials said the two-alarm blaze caused an estimated $85,000, damage and displaced 11 families.
Authorities said the apartment where the fire occurred was leased to the men's mother, who was reported on an out-of-town vacation trip.