WHITE OAK, Md. (WJLA) – Hundreds of people have returned to their homes after a fire in the boiler room of an apartment building prompted evacuations in Silver Spring Wednesday night.
Residents of the White Oak towers at 11700 Old Columbia Pike had to leave their apartments, and hundreds were standing in front of the building.
Early Thursday morning, power was restored to the building and residents were allowed back inside.
Two people were treated for smoke-related illnesses.
Witnesses tell ABC7‘s Jay Korff they heard an explosion and smoke filled the hallways.
“It was rumbling underneath. The floors were shaking,” one said.
Concerned tenants say it didn’t take long for choking smoke to fill the stairwells and hallways.
“The stench was very, very powerful. It was in your lungs. My 17-year-old niece almost passed out from it,” one resident said.
“Basically it started smoking…you just have to get out,” Maijya Winter said.
The property management company, Kay Apartments, tells ABC7 the towers house 410 units.
“I was really scared. I was ready to get out of the building quick,” said Thayzell Jones.
Firefighters worked with Pepco to restore power to the building, which had to be cut off so firefighters could reach the boiler in the basement. High-voltage power had initially prevented firefighters from reaching the boiler. They called another alarm and had power cut off.
Firefighters extinguished the flames and evacuated the building. Montgomery County Emergency Management and Health and Human Service is assisting the displaced residents, and the American Red Cross is providing shelter to 85 residents at Spring Valley High School. Fire officials have also contacted the property management company.
Firefighters were called around 9 p.m. It’s unclear what started the fire.