EDGEWOOD, Md. — Dramatic video shows the virtual inferno as fire in the top floor of a townhouse on Simons Court in Edgewood spread to the lower floors.
"I ran downstairs and told my old lady, 'Get up! Let's get out of here!',” said Robert Glover, who lives nearby, “and she said, 'I keep hearing someone saying, 'Help! Help me! I'm trapped with some animals!'"
Just across Brookside Drive, Shantel Best captured images in real time as firefighters responded to the fire just after 2:30 in the morning.
"I grabbed the camera and I just started shooting everything, and that's when I saw people panicking," said Best.
Dodging flames as they filled the stairwell, firefighters risked their own lives to try to save those trapped on the top floor.
Three people died and three others were injured, according to the Maryland State Fire Marshal’s Office.
Two of the victims were later identified as 57-year-old Ernest Milton Lee and 47-yearold Kimberly Ann Shupe. The third victim's identification is pending.
Among the injured is a person who suffered burns to 70 percent of their body, and a man with broken legs who had to jump from a top floor window.
Shantel Best's video captured images of Bobbie Sue Hodge---one of three people who escaped from their rooms in the basement after being awakened by a smoke detector.
"There's two animals and people still in the house," you can hear her say on the video.
Later, WMAR-2 News caught up with her as she learned the fate of three of the nine people living in the house who never made it out.
"Disabled. We're all disabled," said Hodge, "When I came out, I heard a lot of screaming and crying. We tried to go back in---me and Justin and his mom, but we couldn't go up the steps, because the fire was already coming down."
Investigators will work through the night looking for the source of the fire, and they say they're also looking into whether the owner of the townhouse was licensed to use it as a boarding house with as many as nine rented rooms in the structure.
"There may be criminal charges associated with how this house was set up and the way it was in violation of the fire code," said State Fire Marshall Brian Geraci, "so we may be bringing criminal charges against the property owner or other responsible parties that may be involved."