New Carrollton apartment fire served as therapeutic home for mentally ill
A 44-year-old resident of the New Carrollton apartment building that caught fire Sunday night is in police custody, authorities say.
Prince George's County Police officials say that charges are pending against 44-year-old Anthony Andre Allain in connection to the massive apartment fire that claimed the life of at least two residents.
Forty-five-year-old John Michael Abbate of New Carrollton and 53-year-old Tanya Winston of Glenarden died in the fire.
Police officials say that they were alerted to the flames after a 911 call indicated that Allain had barricaded himself and others inside an apartment in the 7600 block of Fountainbleau Drive and started a fire. He was arrested later Sunday night after being found hiding in the basement of a nearby building.
The apartment served as a therapeutic group home for the mentally ill. There were three residents in the home—two men and one woman. There was also a visitor in the home on Sunday.
The counselor and two others, including Allain, got out right away while the counselor called 911. The female victim who died suffered serious injuries while trying to escape from the fire, died after being taken to an area hospital.
It was a dramatic and traumatic scene as witnesses to the fire watched in terror as a man cried for help from his balcony.
Wanda Coad took video of the fire and, to her horror, saw a woman her clothes on fire leap from the fourth floor balcony.
“When she jumped I turned away and all I heard was screaming,” Coad says. “They say she landed on her neck.”
Fire investigators believe a woman jumped about 40 feet to her death, as the fire ripped through the garden-style apartment.
When firefighters arrived it took only minutes to put the fire out. But for those watching the nightmare unfold it was an eternity.
“We couldn't get the door open - he had piled a bunch of stuff on the door and we couldn't budge it,” neighbor Michael Blount says. “ I'm mad because me and my brother couldn't do anything. We couldn't save him.”