NORTH EAST, Md. — When law enforcers arrived at the mobile home on Superior Court in North East and first spotted the fire, one of them tried to force their way inside with a sledgehammer.
A magnet for the homeless, vagrants and drug addicts, police weren’t alone in thinking someone could be trapped inside the vacant dwelling.
“Our neighbor down the street… she thought maybe her daughter was there so she came through and was like, ‘Maybe my daughter was there’, and we were like, ‘Oh no,’” said Gary Williamson.
When firefighters from the Charlestown and North East fire companies arrived, they ran into the burning structure in hopes of making a rescue.
“Conditions quickly deteriorated,” said Sr. Deputy State Fire Marshal Oliver Alkire. “Those four firefighters, thankfully, were actually able to exit out of a window… all four of them. They yelled for a “mayday”, and it was an all-hands-on-deck situation at that point.”
Two of the firefighters suffered burns over 20 percent of their bodies, while two others suffered minor burns, and it turned out no one had been trapped inside.
That raises the question over how the fire started on the exterior of the rear of the home.
One look at the toll the fire took on the firefighters’ gear suggests the intense heat they faced as they scrambled to get out of the structure alive.
“They’re very fortunate to have that barrier between them---that clothing that was between them,” said Alkire. “It actually saved their life. Their masks were extensively melted. This could have ended up tragically.”
At last report, three of the firefighters remain hospitalized---two of them in serious condition.