Cambridge apartment fire injures 21; people jump to safety

CAMBRIDGE, Md. (AP/ABC7) - The State Fire Marshal's Office says more than a dozen people had to jump from windows to safety during a four-alarm fire at a three-story apartment building in Cambridge.

"You open the door, and there is smoke," said resident Ryan Phillips. "... you physically cant breathe; you have no options..."

Phillips went out his third floor window, finding safety on the roof of an adjoining structure. He could hear his neighbor screaming for help.

"I honestly thought people were dying. I felt totally helpless," Phillips added.

Olimatta Taal was next door working with her independent film production crew. They heard screams and far worse as they ran to help.

"You could hear people jumping off the building, and it sounded like a slab of meat, because people were falling so far," Taal said. "...a pregnant woman was actually pushed out the building."

Until fire crews arrived, the team drove a van onto the sidewalk to rescue children being tossed from a second floor window.

Even veteran Cambridge Fire Chief Bill Phillips said he's never seen such a horror.

"I had five or six people laying in a pile. They jumped out of the building," Bill said. "Broken legs, broken arms, ankles, dislocated body parts - it's rough."

The office says about 15 people were taken to hospitals with injuries sustained while escaping the fire. No one is believed to have suffered any burns.

Deputy state fire marshals are investigating the cause and origin of the fire, which broke out late Sunday night. According to sources, investigators believe the fire could be a case of arson.