The latest meeting of the White Flint Downtown Advisory Committee was a busy one. In addition to discussion of road projects, Fire Chief Steven Lohr was present to recap the emergency response to last month’s event at the Washington Gas property on Nebel Street.
As Chief Lohr described, three employees were at the multiple-bay vehicle repair facility in the pre-dawn hours of February 12th. When they heard a “popping” sound, they suspected a natural gas leak and rushed to open bay doors and turn off heaters but the gas ignited before they could do so. Luckily, all three employees self-evacuated from the scene and were not harmed.
Fire and rescue resources were dispatched at 6:11am and arrived at the scene less than four minutes later to find heavy black smoke and a dangerous scene. Multiple combustibles, like natural gas and tires, were mixed with a steel-bar joist structure, known for failing very early in a fire. Also, icy conditions that morning caused initial challenges in safely deploying water lines. But, the fire department maximized the resources available along Nebel Street by utilizing three different hydrants and a heavy water hookup, as well as a compressed air foam pumper – a relatively recent investment by the county that proved particularly useful here.
Both Images from Chief Lohr’s Presentation to the White Flint Downtown Advisory Committee
Chief Lohr continued by noting that the goal of Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service is to respond to any emergency within 8 minutes. While they’re still working toward this goal in some pockets of the county, it’s comforting for us here in White Flint. The Chief went on to say that MCFRS is working hard to reduce their need to respond at all by actively engaging the community in emergency prevention techniques. Thanks to Chief Lohr and Assistant Chief John Dimitriadis for taking the time with us this week – and for the work they and their colleagues do everyday.
We have another update regarding the Washington Gas land. As we’ve discussed, Washington Gas has proposed a 145′ communications tower to be constructed in the center of the Nebel Street property. Earlier this year, we shared that Washington Gas was exploring other sites away from White Flint for their tower. We learned this week that such a search was unsuccessful and that Washington Gas will resume the process for approvals for construction on Nebel. Washington Gas tells us that they expect to submit their final request to the county over the next few weeks. We’ll share more as we get it!