An early morning house fire at 23152 Persimmon Ridge Road in Clarksburg left one family without a home and damaged two other nearby houses. But thanks to the quick action of the first responding police officer residents of the neighboring homes were evacuated to safety.
According to Montgomery County Fire Rescue Senior Spokesman Pete Piringer, the family living in the fire house had moved into the home just three weeks ago, was woken up by some noises in the house at about 2:30 am on Sunday morning, Feb. 19. The occupants discovered a fire near the back porch of the home involved in a recycling bin. The residents attempted to extinguish the fire to no avail and began to evacuate and called 9-1-1.
The fire extended very rapidly up the rear of the house. Prior to MCFRS arriving on scene a Montgomery County Police Officer Jon Roark arrived at the scene and in the face of heavy fire made sure the family of four, including two children, evacuated the house.
Roark then alerted neighbors to the rapidly growing fire at the house next door. “The family where the house was on fire was already out of the house sitting in front on the sidewalk,” said Roark. “But with the way the wind was blowing and the spray of the flames, I evacuated the houses on either side. A young lady opened the door (of the neighboring house) and I said, ‘You need to get your family out of the house. Your neighbor’s house is on fire.”
Roark said, while the scene was confusing for the neighbor being awoken at 2:30 am in the morning by a police office, but she started evacuating her family of six. In the meantime, he moved on to begin waking up the neighbors on the other side of the burning house.
“I went down the house on the corner and they woke those people up,” said Roark, who is 14-year veteran with the MCPD. “They were startled. They had no idea what was going on.” He said, he had just gotten the all the residents all across the street to safety when Fire Rescue began arriving. “Once we got everybody out, I went around to the back side of the house to make sure there wasn’t anything behind there that might be in jeopardy of being hit by the fire.”
“Fire Rescue was very quick to respond,” said Roark, who has been working in the 5th District for about year, previously he’d been assigned to the 3th District in Silver Spring. “I coordinated with firefighters here on the scene. They went behind me to check and make sure there wasn’t anybody else inside the houses. They saved this house here,” he said pointing to 23150 Persimmon Ridge Road. “I am certain it wasn’t too much longer before it was going to go up as well. Fire Rescue did a great job in response time. It is about making sure everybody was safe and protecting the property as well. It was a great team effort.”
Once MCFRS units arrived on the scene, they discovered heavy fire at the home and called for the task force to assist with the fire. Piringer said it took firefighters 15- to 20-minutes to knock down the bulk of the fire.
“The wind was blowing,” said Roark who said he had been working overnight’s on patrol in the Clarksburg area since June of 2016. “The wind was shifting. It wasn’t as heavy as it had been in past weeks, but there was a couple of gusts and you could see the embers floating through the air and the flames wiggling back and forth.”
The fire destroyed the roof and badly damaged the second floor of the house. The intense heat from the fire also damaged the siding of the two homes immediately adjacent to the fire house. According to Piringer, more than 75 firefighters were called to the scene to extinguish the fire, protect neighboring homes and suppress the spread of fire to other structures in the area.
According to Piringer, improperly discarded smoking materials on the back porch area of the house were responsible for starting the fire. Officials estimate the home of origin suffered over $650,000 in damage while neighboring homes suffered an estimated $50,000 combined damage. The family of four was displaced due to the damage, but thankfully, no one was injured in the fire.
Top: MCFRS arrived to find heavy fire conditions at a house on Persimmon Ridge Road in Clarksburg in the early hours of February 19.
Next: An MCPD officer was the first arrive on the scene and aided the occupants out of the house and alert occupants of neighboring homes to the quickly growing fire.
Next: The intense heat from the fire damaged two neighboring homes.
Next: Officials believe the fire originated on the porch and was started by improperly discarded smoking materials.
Next: The fire is estimated to have done more than $650,000 in damaged to the house and about $50,000 to neighboring houses.
Next: The fire destroyed the roof and badly damaged the second floor of the house.
Photos courtesy MCFRS. Videos by Germantown Pulse.