MONTGOMERY VILLAGE – A fire at a townhouse displaced three siblings and their cousin Friday night.
No injuries were reported after part of the townhouse above the ceiling caught fire and filled the home with smoke, said Bill Dunn, assistant fire chief for the Rockville Volunteer Fire Department. The fire went above the ceiling but not through the roof, which would have been more serious.
Just before 11 p.m., 19-year-old Anjiah Buie was home asleep. Her sister’s baby godson was staying with her for the weekend. Her two siblings and a cousin were out at the time.
She said she woke up because she felt cool air coming from the fan. But she hadn’t turned it on. Maybe a sibling turned it on. She looked at the fan.
“The fan started having problems,” Anjiah said.
The fan went “shh shh shh,” she added, imitating the sound of the sparks she saw coming from it.
“But the fan wasn’t on at all,” she said.
However, when she climbed out of bed, she said, the room felt hot.
Her face stained with tears, Anjiah was wearing a coat and leggings with flip-flops. Her breath was visible as she stood outside her house and described what happened while watching firefighters use axes, shovels and chainsaws to put out the fire.
She said the next sound she had heard made her think someone else was home.
“I heard noises thinking someone was in the house,” Anjiah said.
She walked down the hallway to the bathroom and saw sparks coming from the light by the shower.
“I see the bathroom sparkle, and that’s when I (saw) smoke,” Anjiah said.
Then the power went out.
“I’m scared. I’m scared,” she said to herself.
She picked up the baby and exited the house to safety.
Her sister Lay, age 22, her brother Roland, age 21, and her 14-year-old cousin Jay Wren, returned home a little later. All four used their cellphones to alert friends and family members, including the baby’s mother, and try to figure out where they could stay.
Dunn said county fire and rescue were dispatched to the scene around 11:15 p.m.
A lieutenant for Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service started talking to the group. He asked Lay what the group’s plan was. She said she didn’t know yet.
“The wiring is old,” Roland said to the Fire and Rescue official. “The wiring is old.”
“Your sister’s safe; your baby’s safe,” the lieutenant reminded him, advising the group to be calm.
Dunn said between 35 and 45 firefighters dispatched to the house Friday into early Saturday. He said that’s average for a house fire, an event that generally occurs every three days in Montgomery County.
At 11:45 p.m. the fire was “under control” or contained but not completely out, Dunn said. By 12:15 a.m. Saturday, firefighters had put out the fire.
The firefighters filled metal washtubs with debris and dumped the debris out the windows onto the lawn.
A friend brought them coffee, waited for them to pick through belongings inside the house, and then everyone except Anjiah climbed into the friend’s car. Anijah accompanied the baby’s mother to her home. The residents took along with them a duffel bag, a handbag, a laundry basket and a plastic trash bag full of belongings.