A 63-year-old man has died from a fire at a Silver Spring apartment building. Three other people were also injured.
It happened Tuesday morning on the top floor of the Mongomery Towers Apartments on Silver Spring Avenue.
Edward Mager, a resident of the building who lived in the apartment where the fire started, was severely burned and died from his injuries at a local hospital.
A 79-year-old woman, another adult woman and a 6-year-old suffered non-life-threatening injuries in the fire.
Firefighters had to use extension ladders to rescue several people trapped by the smoke and flames.
A number of families and some nuns found shelter in a nearby home.
A resident who lives on the third floor says the first sign of trouble was the sound of glass breaking and people shouting from the parking lot below. It was a commotion that got her out the door and down the stairs to the lobby where she was stunned by a sudden explosion.
"And I looked up and the flames engulfed that whole place and glass was flying out,” said building resident Audrey Lezama.
With no alarm sounding, Lezama says she ran window to window on the lower floors.
"And I was running along the apartment building and shouting ‘Fire, fire, get out, get out!”
The first arriving firefighters sounded a second alarm when they saw flames shooting from the roof. Within minutes, a hundred firefighters were on the scene, extending ladders from at least two trucks to the upper floors where several people were rescued.
"The fire was really coming toward us, coming outside and the glass was flying everywhere,” said Lezama. “It was really quite shocking.”
Watching it all from her house next door was Gretta Siebentritt, who dashed outside when she saw children and adults shivering in their night clothes.
"People in their bathrobes and pajamas and barefoot, and kids in little tiny pajamas and barefoot in the parking lot,” said Siebentritt. “And we know each other being neighbors, so I said, ‘Come on over, let’s make tea and keep warm and see what happens.’”
As firefighters worked to extinguish the blaze, Siebentritt estimates she had about 50 people in her house.
"Got out bread and cookies and things and tried to give the kids some juice,” she said. “They were nervous and scared, and there were some elderly people and non-English speakers and a mix of people who needed to be warm. So we ate and got to know each other better.”
When the Red Cross arrived, they helped out as well, bringing in buses for others to keep warm.
Lezama says she was later allowed back into her third floor apartment to assess damage she described as minimal.
An official with the Montgomery Fire and Rescue Service says preliminarily investigators believe the cause of the fire to be accidental.