Neighbors help quadriplegic veteran, wife escape blaze at Gaithersburg home

Smoke rises from a home outside Gaithersburg consumed by fire. (Photo: MCFRS)

GAITHERSBURG, Md. (WJLA) - A quadriplegic veteran who survived an explosion in Afghanistan two years ago was injured along with his wife while escaping a blaze Thursday night that consumed their home just outside Gaithersburg.

Montgomery County Fire and Rescue officials said it appeared the fire at 8018 Warfield Road in Laytonsville started in the attached garage of the home and quickly spread.

When firefighters arrived about 9 p.m., they said the house was engulfed in "heavy flames" and it took a massive firefighting effort to finally knock the blaze down.

Authorities said the couple, former Army Capt. Flip Klein and his wife, Jess, were inside the house when the fire broke out; they smelled smoke and made it to their front door, where neighbors - alerted by the couple's dogs - helped carry them to safety.

"By the time we got outside the garage was in full flame," Flip Klein said.

The couple were transported to the hospital, where they were treated for smoke inhalation and released Friday.

Their home was heavily damaged in the blaze, and officials on Friday pegged the loss at about $400,000.

The Kleins turned to the "Friends of Flip" Facebook page for comfort two years ago; they are turning to it again now, during their time of need.

Investigators said Friday they believed an electrical wiring problem sparked the fire.