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3-Alarm Blaze Rips Through Bowie Craft Store

On Sunday, November 11, 2001 at approximately 1245 hours a box assignment in Company 43’s area was dispatched to 4511 Mitchellville Road for a reported building fire at the Michael’s Arts and Crafts Store. Engine Company 43 was operating on another incident at the time of dispatch. Initial dispatch brought Engine Companies 39, 77 (Anne Arundle-Co 7.), 18,19, Truck 22, Truck 45, Rescue Squad 20 and Battalion Chief 2.

At approximately 1249 hours, the Volunteer Operations Commander was the first to arrive on the scene and reported heavy fire conditions throughout the 200 foot by 200 foot arts and crafts store. He requested that the second alarm be sounded. Tower 33 clearing a call responded extra. Within minutes the roof and part of the Side 4 wall collapsed. At this time the Volunteer Operations Commander ordered defensive operations. Numerous explosions took place inside the building, which were believed to be disposable helium tanks for party balloons.

The second alarm brought Engine Companies 43, 33, 48, 76 (Ann Arundle-Co. 3), Truck 5, Truck 17, Rescue Squad 13, Metro Support Unit 1, Breathing Air 94 (Montgomery Co.) , Emergency Command Unit 47, Water Supply 25 and Medic Units 18 and 43.

The Operations Commander arrived on the scene, assumed command and requested a third alarm. Engine companies 20, 28, 35, 39, Truck 39, Tower 7 and Telesquirt 9 were alerted to the call. Tower 74 (Andrews Air Froce Base), Anne Arundle Co. 13 (Riviera Beach) and Anne Arundle Co. 30 (Arminger) were also special called to the scene. Elevated streams from Trucks 5, 17, 22, 39, 45, Telesquirt 9, Towers 7, 33, 74 cooled the building.

As units were released Tower 31 was called to assist with the clean-up operations because of its reaching capabilities. Tower 31 is a 134 foot Bronto-Lift.

All suppression units cleared by 2200 hours, except for Engine 392, Light Unit 19 and ECU 47 which stayed on the scene throughout the night to maintain the scene.

The cause of this fire is under investigation with estimated damages of at least 3 million dollars.