Fire Officials: Motorized Wheelchair Malfunction Likely Cause of Fire at Alexander House Apartments

A fire at an apartment in downtown Silver Spring early Friday morning may have been caused by a motorized wheelchair malfunction, according to fire officials.

Firefighters responded to a fire just after 12:30 a.m. Friday at Alexander House Apartments in the 8500 block of 2nd Ave., according to county Fire & Rescue Service spokesperson Pete Piringer. The apartment occupant was found in a wheelchair and suffering from significant burns. Their injuries were life-threatening and they were transported to a burn center for treatment.

Piringer said that the person was in their 70s and in critical condition.

It is believed that the fire originated under the wheelchair’s seat; the wheelchair’s batteries and drive motor were severely damaged. Hazardous materials crews examined the batteries and found that they were not lithium-ion batteries.

An additional individual was transported to the hospital due to a medical emergency but unrelated to the fire. Sprinklers were activated and controlled the fire, and the fire caused approximately $50,000 worth of damages, according to Piringer.

Photo: Pete Piringer / Twitter

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