September 4, 2014 – MCFRS and RVFD units were dispatched at 4:35a for a reported house fire on Iris St. in Rockville. First arriving units from Kensington VFD reported smoke showing from a single family home. Chief 705 assumed command and MoCo Communications dispatched the Rapid Intervention Group. Initial assessment revealed a fire in the basement that was gas fed and fire on the first floor. Command was notified that not all occupants were out of the house. RS703 was assigned to search the house. Units were assigned to attack the fire in the basement which had extended into the first and second floors. Other were assigned to attack the fire on both floors. Due to the extent of the fire, command requested a fire task force.
As units were battling the fire, they reported heavy smoke and high heat conditions. At one point units reported a fireball erupting from the basement up to the second floor. Command ordered all personnel out of the structure to regroup and conduct an accountability check. As personnel were evacuating, RS703 reported they had found a victim and had removed the victim through a second floor window onto the porch roof. The victim was brought to waiting paramedics and transported to a local hospital. Unfortunately the victim died at the hospital. It was later determined the victim had been stabbed by her son, another occupant of the house, and the fire was an attempt to cover up that crime. The son was arrested by Montgomery County police.
After regrouping, firefighters again entered the structure to attack the fire on all three levels and attempt to shut off the gas. Shortly afterwards it was reported the floor in the area of the stairs to the second floor had collapsed. Command ordered a second evacuation after additional reports of high heat and heavy fire. A second fire task force was requested.
Units initiated an exterior attack to bring the fire under control before re-entering the structure to extinguish the fire. Due to difficulties controlling the gas, the fire reignited explosively after initial extinguishment. Firefighters were still on the scene and were able to extinguish the fire. The gas company was finally able to shut off the gas at the street.
Three firefighters were transported to a local hospital for minor injuries. Al were treated and released. The cause of the fire is under investigation.
Units responding: E725, E721, E723, E703, T725, AT723, RS703, A725. C705, B/C704, B/C703, C705C, C703G, EMS701, DC700
Rapid Intervention: AT703, RS742B, M723
Fire task force: #1-E705B, E740, AT718, AR733, CT705; #2 and additional units: E719, E726, AT724, M703, M725, M742E, A742B, A703, A723, CT740
For additional photos from the incident, visit RVFD photographer Beverly Jensen’s site.