By Lynsey Jeffery
The Fuse 47 apartment complex fire on Berwyn House Road in College Park continues to burn in contained “hot spots,” according to Prince George’s County Fire Department Public Information Officer Mark Brady.
The College Park City Council held its regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday evening, where City Manager Scott Somers gave his report on the ongoing fire, which started on Monday morning and required the work of over 200 firefighters.
Somers said the fire began on the sixth floor of the unfinished building, then quickly spread to the seventh floor and to the roof.
A firewall saved half of the building, Somers said.
“My understanding is that the west side of the building is intact and will be just fine,” Somers said. “But the east side of the building will need to come down.”
Somers said Fuse 47 property developers, Wood Partners, plan to rebuild what was lost to the fire, and that they are working to figure out the safest way to reconstruct the top four floors.
Brady attributed the fire spreading so quickly to the unfinished and nonfunctional sprinklers, fire walls and other fire prevention systems.
The fire department also had trouble getting to the fire due to the building’s layout. Because the apartment complex was built into a hill, and had a donut-shaped structure, it was difficult to reach the back of the building where the fire was.
“We did the best we can, based on where we had access to,” Brady said. “Not having access to all four sides was a challenge, but we were able to overcome it.”
At the meeting, District 1 Councilman Fazlul Kabir asked Somers whether he believed the complex would be more conducive to stopping fires moving forward.
Somers said he did not believe the fire department had any issue getting to the back of the building, and stressed that despite what happened, Fuse 47 did not violate any building codes.
“From what I saw and observed today, the fire trucks were able to get around all sides of that building,” Somers said. “I don’t know that there was any issue. I haven’t heard that.”
Brady said the apartment complex is still facing the possibility of collapse, so firefighters will not be going inside. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.
Brady supported the university’s closure on Monday due to poor air quality from the fire’s smoke.
“We think in the Fire Department [President Loh] did an excellent job in making that
decision,” Brady said.
Brady said firefighters are prepared to stay on the scene into Wednesday. One firefighter who was taken to the hospital has been treated and discharged.
“It’s heartwarming to see the coordinating efforts to battle catastrophe,” District 2 Councilman Monroe Dennis said.
But the Council also stressed the struggles ahead for the College Park community, as construction will now be drawn out much longer past the slated July 1 Fuse 47 completion date.
“We still have a lot of work to do in the aftermath of this event,” College Park Mayor Patrick Wojahn said.