LAUREL, Md. — Explosions amid heavy flames in the middle of the night on Scott Adams Court in Laurel.
Stranded on a third-floor balcony, a pair of men looking for an escape route as the fire climbed beneath them.
"All of the sudden, I'm just hearing tidbits of the story like, 'Oh, I heard three booms in the back.' 'The fire is rising. We gotta get out. There's a lot of smoke,'" recounted Eric Oliver.
One of the three roommates bolted out the door and down the stairs to safety.
"I went running through the smoke,” said Marcus Yates. “A lot of people tried to do the same thing. They didn't make it. They ain't built like this you know? Sorry to say it like that, but they didn't make it. They passed out. Their lungs couldn't take it."
By the time Oliver and Demiam Callender made it to the door, the smoke and flames forced them to turn back and to head for their balcony.
"We jump over to our neighbors' balcony,” said Oliver. “We knock on his window just to make sure that if anybody is in the house to let them know, 'Come on! Get out! Get out! Get out!'"
The two men dropped themselves down to balconies below calling for their neighbors to evacuate, and seconds later, firefighters arrived on the scene where they found a man and two children still trapped on the top floor.
"When they got on the scene, they had rescues,” said Deputy City Fire Marshal Richard Blankenship. “There was a father there on one of the top balconies that had a couple of kids. They removed the children from them. We also took a couple of people out of the stairwell that were downstairs by the apartment that was on fire."
23 adults and eight children made it out of the building alive, and no one remained behind, by pulling together in the face of a fire, which would spread throughout the three floors destroying many of their possessions.
"Materialistic things---those are things we can always replace,” said Callender. “If we lost out lives or I lost any of my friends' lives, I can't replace that and no value of money or materialistic things would have brought them back to me."