- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 7, 2001

Firefighters rescued six residents from the second and third floors of a Manassas Park, Va. apartment complex after a two-alarm fire yesterday morning.
The fire started around 11:30 a.m. at the wooden, garden-style Maplewood Park Apartments at 8184 Peakwood Court and quickly spread to the neighboring apartment building at 8186.
More than 60 firefighters from Prince William and Fairfax counties and 16 units responded to the blaze, and using extension ladders, they rescued the upper-floor residents. The fire forced a mother on the second floor to drop her baby into the arms of a waiting firefighter, said Battalion Chief Steve Strawderman, a Prince William County Fire Department spokesman.
Four of the residents suffered minor injuries from burns and smoke inhalation and they were transported to Prince William Hospital. Half of the 24 apartments incurred heavy fire damage while others sustained smoke and water damage. Estimates of property damage are $1.2 million in structural damage and $500,000 in lost personal property.
The fire departments were joined by two Loudoun County firefighters who spotted the billowing smoke as they returned from taking a medical service test. Although they did not have their full gear, they rushed to the scene and helped in the rescue effort, Chief Strawderman said. They were later treated for minor burns.
The cause and origin of the fire, which was brought under control around 12:30 p.m., are still being investigated. While residents of the complex said they were relieved that no one was seriously injured, they expressed concern for the displaced families and individuals.
"When I came out everything was in flames. The whole roof was in flames. … What can you offer to someone whose whole life has just gone up in flames," said Arnold Pachtman, who lives in a third-story apartment next door.
Mr. Pachtman said he was going to check the batteries in his fire detector and buy rope so he could escape from his window in case of a future fire.
The American Red Cross will provide overnight shelter at nearby Yorkshire Elementary School for those left temporarily homeless by the fire.
"That's 24 families uprooted right there. These are really nice people. These are people that did not deserve for trouble to befall them," Mr. Pachtman said.
The American Red Cross is asking for donations to assist the families and can be reached at 703/368-4511.

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