At least nine people, including five firefighters, were injured in an apartment fire in Temple Hills Thursday night, authorities said.
Firefighters rescued four people from Huntley Square Apartments in the 3700 block of Huntley Square Drive about 10 p.m., according to Prince George's County fire officials. It started in a terrace level kitchen and quickly spread upward, News4’s Derrick Ward reported.
"We heard a woman say, ‘Hey, it's hot up here. Help me, help me, it's getting hot and smoky,” Prince George’s County Fire Capt. Capt. Scott Kilpatrick said.
He climbed a ladder to her balcony. Her apartment was so filled with smoke, he could barely see her, and she was having trouble breathing. He said it was difficult to use his radio.
"I just told command that I'm going to start sharing my air with her, so I took the regulator off my mask and started sharing my air with her,” he said. “It basically free-flows, so I just put it right up to her mouth."
“Each individual firefighter must make that personal decision to place himself further into harm’s way,” Prince George’s County Fire spokesman Mark Brady said. “But I think everybody in this department would do the same thing."
Between breaths Kilpatrick talked to the woman to help her stay calm, but the apartment was about to reach a flashpoint. The carpet began to bubble from the heat. When he tried to open the door to get out, he was met by more smoke and flames.
“So I closed it, said a quick prayer -- ‘God help me get out of this,’” Kilpatrick said.
"It was super-heated air and gases that rushed out of the apartment up into that stairwell," Brady said.
That drove firefighters manning the hoses back, and Kilpatrick and the woman he'd gone to help both needed rescue themselves.
“It was going really, really bad really, really quick,” Kilpatrick said. “She was screaming. She was crying. She was telling me, ‘My feet are burning, my feet are burning.’ And I know she was burning. I know she was being hurt. And that really broke my heart."
With the air was running out for both of them, Kilpatrick let her take the last of it.
“I was sucking thick, nasty, hot, black smoke," he said.
But then other firefighters got to them and got them out of the building. Both were hospitalized. In addition to both of them taking in smoke, the woman suffered burns.
“Once I made contact with that lady, I really kind of like connected with her,” Kilpatrick said. “And I was like, ‘I want to help you. I'm here to help you.’”
Four other firefighters suffered burns in the fire, the Associated Press reported.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.