Over 60 Anne Arundel County firefighters braved Wednesday's record heat to battle a three-alarm fire that seriously damaged two homes in Annapolis.
The fire, located in a senior community in the 2600 block of Compass Drive, was reported at about 11:30 a.m.
"I saw these horrible flames leaping up into the air. I couldn't take it all in, just fire. These flames…they went on for some time. I started praying for the firemen," said witness Shirley McDonald.
The 76-year-old rushed toward the flames. Her friend lived in a corner home, where it appears the fire started in an enclosed back patio.
McDonald said, "I thought it was going to engulf that whole row."
"The house became engulfed in flames in the back right away. It seemed like it took forever for the fire department to get here, but they got here very quickly," added Barbara Schmal, who called 911.
Fire crews contained the blaze to two homes, but at least three others suffered damage. The fire was so hot it melted the siding on homes hundreds of feet away.
At least one senior citizen was home when the fire started. Fortunately, the homes have sprinklers, which bought her time to get out okay.
"In this case, sprinklers made all the difference in the lives of these occupants," said Anne Arundel County Battalion Chief Matthew Tobia.
McDonald added, "I came and put my arms around her and said, 'lida, I'm praying for you.' She said, 'Oh honey, it's just a house. It can be replaced.'"
The cause of the fire remains under investigation.