LANHAM, Md. (DC News Now) — 12 families have to find somewhere to stay Thursday night after a Lanham apartment caught fire. The people living there say they were shocked and confused when they saw smoke and flames coming from the roof of their building.
One woman told DC News Now that she had to jump out the window to escape the flames. Many of them say this is the second time there’s been a fire in this apartment building.
The fire happened around 5 p.m. and Prince George’s County Fire Department responded to 85th ave. in Lanham. The fire tore through part of the apartment complex.
“I just saw black smoke billowing out,” said Diedre Curtis, a resident in the building. Curtis said she just got home and saw it all unfold while sitting in her car. She says her neighbor lived next to the apartment where the fire started.
“She jumped out of the side of balcony the balcony and then you could see flames shooting up. I called 911 and within a matter of 3 minutes the firefighters were here,” said Curtis.
Windows of a 3rd story apartment were completely shattered, and you could see through the roof from one of the rooms.
“I sat with the woman who was crying hysterically about having to jump out a 3rd story window and she was freaked out about having to lose her precious heirlooms that had been given to her by her grandmother and all I kept saying was you survived, you survived,” said Briana Urbina, Council Member for The City of New Carrolton.
12 apartments were affected, some with heavy smoke, others with water damage, but a few were destroyed. Neighbors say there was a smaller fire a few days ago coming from that same unit where the fire started.
The American Red Cross came to the scene to help residents make arrangements for somewhere to stay Thursday night.
“It’s a big inconvenience because I’m a teacher and I needed to go in and handle some stuff for my lesson tomorrow but fortunately I have a friend that lives in Bowie who said come over. So I got wifi and all that, I’ll be good,” said Curtis.
Urbina said she spent time with those affected by the fire, she even gave them clothes since many were not able to grab items when the fire was happening.
“The city of New Carrolton are going to reach out to all the affected residents. I’m also going to put some folks into direct contact with some local non-profits and reach out to our state delegate team and county council to make sure all resources available are made available to these residents,” said Urbina.
PGFD is investigating the cause of the fire. They also shut down the power as a precaution, but residents can return to their home on Friday.