Gaithersburg fire kills child, displaces many

Photo: ABC7

GAITHERSBURG, Md. (WJLA) – A 4-year-old boy was killed Wednesday afternoon when the Gaithersburg apartment he and his family lived in was quickly and violently engulfed in flames.

Elizabeth Martey is inconsolable. She tells she lost her four-year-old nephew in the fire.

"My brother tried to go inside -- I think he is burned also," she said,

The blaze broke out just after 4 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon at the Cider Mill Apartments in Gaithersburg. Investigators say that from evaluating cell phone video, it appears that the fire started on the second floor before the flames and thick black smoke shot straight up.

Neighbors told us they felt helpless as one father desperately tried to rescue his son.

"The dad was trying to go through the door, but he couldn't because of the smoke and the fire...he couldn't get in there," said neighbor Anthony Mitchell.

Up on the third floor, others were trapped too.

"I actually saw an old man, his head was on fire, he was screaming; this firefighter broke the window and tried to get him outside," described another neighbor, Hassnain Ashfaq.

Some Good Samaritans managed to pull another family to safety.

"There was a lady with two children -- a guy on a chair reached out and grabbed the children and then they got the lady down from the balcony," said Mitchell.

As a result of the fire, at least a dozen families may have lost their homes. But it is the loss of a child that hurts the most.

"It's a sad day," said Mitchell. Especially losing a child like that, it's really painful."