Massive College Park Fire Was Accidental; Full Investigation Could Take Weeks

A huge fire that destroyed an apartment building under construction in College Park, Maryland Monday was likely accidental -- though fire inspectors say a full investigation could take days or weeks.

The fire led to one of the largest firefighting efforts in Prince George's County history, as thick black smoke wafted over the nearby University of Maryland campus, which had to close for the day. No one was hurt, but the building was a $39 million loss.

Fire investigators asked Thursday for anyone with photos of videos of the fire to come forward to help investigators. Images can be emailed to

The fire broke out Monday morning on the fifth floor of Fuse 47, a seven-story, mixed-use development of about 250 apartments and retail stores that was under construction in the 4700 block of Berwyn House Road.

The flames quickly spread to the sixth floor.

News4’s Derrick Ward spoke to some College Park residents bothered by the thick smoke from a five-alarm fire Monday.

Crews brought the blaze under control by about 3 p.m. Monday, although hot spots remained for days.

Firefighters said it was like battling a wood pile surrounded by concrete.

“With all that wood, it’s very hard to catch up with it,” said acting Prince George's Fire Chief Benjamin Barksdale.

A woman who lives nearby told News4 a cloud of smoke settled on her house.

"The whole house is consumed with smoke," she said. "It's unbearable. I have to leave."

The University of Maryland College Park, located nearby, closed at 1 p.m. due to poor air quality, President Wallace Loh said. Students on campus were told to stay inside and close their windows and doors.

"Everything on campus smells like burnt electronics or something," student Emory Bacon said.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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