Columbia fire damages several apartment units

COLUMBIA, Md. (WJLA) - Residents were forced to jump from their balconies Friday after a fire ripped through their apartment building in the 11300 block of Little Patuxent Parkway.

Kim Pruim was treating herself to a day off and a nap when the fire started in the unit above hers.

“I saw the flames actually before I went out on my balcony. Through my blinds I saw billows of smoke,” she says.

She fought to stay calm and find a way out.

“I’d already opened the door twice and it was dark and black and just black smoke that was coming through my unit,” she says.

Eventually, Pruim jumped 10 feet from her balcony to safety.

Demarco Wells says he watched as others scrambled for their lives.

“I could see kids trying, girls trying to get their grandmother gone and everything and the fire, it traveled from one building across,” she says.

Despite the quick spread, everybody did manage to get out before firefighters arrived.

“No physical rescues were made, however we did transport one occupant to a hospital with smoke inhalation,” says Adam Nolder, Howard County Fire spokesman.

The apartment building itself is in shambles. The fire was so rapid that 16 units are either burned or smoke and water damaged.

Pruim calls it miraculous that nobody is seriously injured.

“I’m blessed for myself, I’m blessed for everyone who is here, you know? We certainly have someone watching over us right now.”