Tuesday, July 23, 2002

Apartment fire sends 2 to hospitals

Resident alerted neighbors

By David Eck, daveck@fuse.net
Enquirer contributor

        NORWOOD — A fire in a four-family apartment building sent two people, one of them a Norwood firefighter, to area hospitals.

        Crystal Combs, 38, was in critical condition Monday at University Hospital after jumping from the second floor of the burning building at 5478 Montgomery Road on Sunday evening. She suffered burns, fire officials said.

        Norwood firefighter Ron Wallace was taken to Bethesda North Hospital after suffering heat exhaustion and chest pains. He was treated and released.

        The first fire crews at the building also rescued a woman from the second floor. She was not injured.

        “She was actually sitting on a window air conditioner,” Norwood Fire Chief Curt Goodman said.

        “That's the same window (Ms. Combs) jumped out of.”

        Several other people in the building were already outside when firefighters arrived.

        Fire crews initially found heavy fire coming from both floors of the two-story building.

        Firefighters were at the apartment for about 4 1/2 hours.

        Ms. Combs, who lived on the first floor, left her apartment and went upstairs to warn her neighbors of the blaze, Chief Goodman said.

        “The fire started in her apartment,” the chief said. “She could have (gone) out the front door. She ran upstairs to alert the tenants on the second floor. She did a good thing.”

        The building, located at Montgomery Avenue and Cypress Way, was sealed up and yellow police tape lined the entrance Monday afternoon.

        All four units in the large building were occupied, and the American Red Cross is assisting the four families who were displaced.

        Damage is estimated at $125,000. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

        Firefighters from St. Bernard and the Deer Park-Silverton Joint Fire District assisted Norwood crews.


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