Montgomery County Police and Fire Rescue personnel had to battle a battle a deranged man before they could get to work extinguishing the fire the man had started in the kitchen of his Clarksburg townhouse on Thursday night.
Police and fire personnel had to make three separate entries to the townhouse because the man began throwing burning objects at them in an attempt to stop them.
“It was a very chaotic scene,” said 5th District Commander, Capt. Mark Plazinski. “The incredibly heroic actions by the officers involved make me proud to be a Montgomery County Police officer.”
The incident began when 5th District MCPD officers were dispatched to the townhouse in 22100 block of Fair Garden Lane in Clarksburg shortly after 5:30 pm on October 11, for the report of a violent subject “destroying” the townhouse.
According to Police, “As the caller to 9-1-1 was hanging up, the Emergency Communications Center call-taker could hear a smoke alarm going off in the background, but couldn’t confirm details of a fire, other than it was originating in the kitchen.” At that point, MCFRS units were also dispatched to the three-story middle-of-the-row townhouse.
Upon arrival, the female caller to 9-1-1 was outside the residence, and she confirmed that her 48-year-old boyfriend was still inside and had likely been drinking before becoming destructive and starting a fire in the kitchen of the residence, said police.
According to MCFRS senior spokesman Pete Piringer, MCFRS Company 734 from the Milestone Fire Station arrived at the scene and made entry to the first floor accompanied by an MCPD officer. “With light smoke conditions, crews advanced a hose line to the kitchen, where they encountered the male resident,” said Piringer. “He refused to get out. The resident was standing at the stove throwing burnt material at the firefighters and police. The stove was on fire, with fire extending to the surrounding cabinets.”
Piringer said that were able to put a quick knock on the fire before retreating from the townhouse. “For any incidents in which there is violence, weapons involvement, or a barricade etc. MCFRS will wait for police to secure the scene. In all fire situations if there are people in harm's way we will make every attempt to create a safe environment for those in close proximity, typically that means to safely evacuate anybody close to the event,” said Piringer.
Officers entered the house a second time, which was now thick with smoke, and continued to be struck by objects thrown at them by the suspect. Once again, police had to back out of the townhouse. At this point, officers began evacuating the adjoining townhouses.
Police developed a plan that involved the use of protective shields and the possible use of a Taser when approaching the man a third time. With the shields protecting them from more succeeded burning objects thrown at them, officers were able to effectively deploy a Taser preventing the deranged man and officers from additional injury.
According to police, the suspect violently resisted attempts to handcuff and remove him from the home even as the fire grew more intense in the kitchen of the townhouse. One of the officers used a fire extinguisher to put out the fire on the stove, with flames then reaching three feet.
“Here you have 11 different officers going into that burning building to get this guy into custody and get him the help he needed while putting themselves in harm’s way to do it,” said Plazinski. “This was a legitimate fire. One of our officers was able to put a fire extinguisher on the fire.”
The front and rear doors were opened to help dissipate the pervasive smoke. After the suspect was in handcuffs, firefighters assisted the officers in removing the suspect from the home, and then fully extinguished the fire.
The suspect, a 48-year-old resident of the house, was transported with non-life-threatening injuries, to include smoke inhalation, by Fire and Rescue personnel to an area hospital for emergency evaluation.
Ten officers who responded to the incident were transported to Holy Cross Hospital in Germantown for treatment of smoke inhalation and later released. “I was very happy with the Emergency Room Department at Holy Cross Hospital. I am thankful for their treatment of our officers.” He said the officers were brought Holy Cross Hospital in Germantown after they suffered from smoke related issues sustained while wrestling with the suspect in a burning building filled with smoke.
Fire officials said the fire cause was, arson and was set by the unidentified man who refused to leave the burning house. He is currently being held for mental observation and charges are pending. Piringer said the fire did about $2,000 damage, about $500.00 to contents and $1,500.00 to structure.
Top: MCFRS and MCPD were on the scene of a townhouse fire in Clarksburg where a man set the fire and refused to leave the building. Police say the man threw burning objects and police and firefighters as the attempted to put the fire out.
Next: Montgomery County Police wait in the steps of the Clarksburg townhouse to enter the dwelling where a man set fire to his kitchen and refused to leave or allow firefighters to put the fire out.
Next: MCFRS on the scene of the townhouse fire in the 22100 block of Fair Garden Lane in Clarksburg.
Photos courtesy MCFRS.