A fire at the Fuse 47 apartment complex on Monday has left the building at risk of collapse, Prince George’s County Fire Chief Ben Barksdale said.
Since a 1:30 p.m. news briefing, a second firefighter has suffered minor injuries, Barksdale said at another briefing late Monday afternoon. Investigators still haven’t determined what caused the fire, he said.
Officials responded to the scene at about 10 a.m., and more than 200 firefighters and medics joined efforts to extinguish the flames. The fire was under control at about 3 p.m., department spokesman Mark Brady wrote in a tweet.
Update Berwyn House Road College Park – fire under control. Still many hot spots that will require PGFD presence throughout the evening pic.twitter.com/nk6zIaZ3JT
— Mark Brady (@PGFDPIO) April 24, 2017
Fire hoses pumped 650 gallons of water per minute for more than five hours, with the weight of the water potentially causing the building — which is currently only supported by wood — to collapse floor by floor, Brady said at the briefing.
Because of the likelihood of collapse, the department is considering removing firefighters from the building, Brady said, as they could be injured if it collapses.
The collapse would cause “catastrophic damage to the building,” and it could be the biggest financial loss in the county’s history, Brady said at the briefing.
Fire loss was estimated at $39 million, and the incident has been labeled the “largest suppression effort and the highest fire loss estimate” in the department’s history, according to a news release.
The fire took so long to control because only one ladder truck was able to access the back of the building, where the fire was located, he said.
“We are continuing to monitor the five alarm fire in College Park,” Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan wrote on Facebook Monday afternoon. “The State stands ready to offer any support needed to Prince George’s County officials, and I urge everyone in the area, including University of Maryland students, to follow all safety precautions.”
The department has downgraded from five-alarm status to two- or three-alarm status, Reilly said. Officials expect to remain on scene for another four to five hours throughout the night, Barksdale said.
Senior staff writer Jessie Campisi contributed to this report.