The Washington Post

7 firefighters injured in Prince George’s blaze

Seven firefighters were seriously injured in Prince George’s County on Friday night when a sudden gust of air, possibly linked to the night’s high winds, turned the inside of a house into an inferno, authorities said. Three remained hospitalized Saturday morning — two of them in critical condition, according to authorities.

Ethan Sorrell, 21, sustained “burns to his airway” and Kevin O’Toole, 22, suffered second- and third-degree burns over 40 percent of his body, authorities said. Both men — members of the Bladensburg Volunteer Fire Department — are being treated in the burn unit at the Washington Hospital Center, according to a statement from county fire spokesman Mark Brady.

Michael McLary, 19, was being treated for injuries to his upper body and ribs and could be released today, Brady said.  

The other four firefighters injured while battling the fire were treated and released overnight.

The incident occurred as firefighters battled a blaze that was reported about 9 p.m. in a vacant house in the 6400 block of 57th Avenue, in the Riverdale area, Brady said.

A sudden rush of air into the structure caused “blowtorch or furnace-type conditions” that forced the firefighters out of the house, Brady said. “They couldn’t do anything about it.” Wind gusts were measured at more than 40 mph around that time.

The cause and origin of the fire were not known, Brady said.

The neighborhood is just east of Kenilworth Avenue and consists largely of detached single-family houses.

Clarence Williams is the night police reporter for The Washington Post and has spent the better part of 13 years standing next to crime scene tape, riding in police cars or waking officials in the middle of night to gather information about breaking news in and around Washington.



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