Silver Spring apartment gutted by fire

SILVER SPRING, Md. (WJLA) -- On Tuesday afternoon, a fire roared out of an 18-unit building at the Forest Park Apartments in Silver Spring, MD.

"I've never seen a fire like this in my life," said resident Kenita Sullivan, who grabbed her daughter and ran from the building consumed by flames and choking smoke.

But some were trapped – like Cindy Nwizu and her mother, Jacinta.

“We were up there screaming for help," said Cindy. "We couldn't get out and we were trapped. We were just panicked."

The Nwizus were trapped up on the fourth floor, and they along with others were rescued via ladder by Montgomery County firefighters. But soon after they reached the ground, they quickly realized that the fire had overwhelmed much of the building.

“That is my building burning up -- everything is gone," said Jacinta.

Fire officials say that the blaze started in a first floor apartment and was caused by an electrical socket near a bed that caught a mattress on fire, blasting out a window and eventually making its way up to the roof and upper floors via a pipe chase. The fire was contained within two-and-a-half hours.

Seven civilians were transported to area hospitals with non-life threatening injuries and three firefighters were transported to local hospitals with minor, non-life threatening injuries.

Kenita Sullivan is one of the 101 reportedly displaced due to the fire, and while she is grateful that she and her daughter escaped unharmed, there are a few items inside her apartment that she desperately hopes were not destroyed by the fire.

Only three months ago, her four-year-old son Charles was killed in a car accident, and the only reminders she has of his precious life are in that burned-out building.

"I'm hoping that we can get our memories from our son back and salvage what we have and try to move on with our lives," she said. "It's hard. I wish that we could just get our stuff out of there, my son's stuff."

Damage estimates are $1 million to the structure and $500,000 to the contents.

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