FULTONVILLE – Three rescuers on scene at the fatal August apartment fire in Fultonville have been issued Life Saving Awards for getting other residents to safety.
Meanwhile, state fire officials confirmed Thursday that the investigation determined the fire to be accidental as they traced it to an air conditioner.
Cited this week with Life Saving Awards were Montgomery County Sheriff’s Sgt. Jason R. Nare, state trooper Nicole Claus and Burtonsville Fire Department Chief Ken Labelle for their roles in rescuing multiple people from the large 33 Main St. apartment building.
Two people died in the fire, Rodney G. Schrell, Jr., 32, and Catherine S. Griffin, 26.
But the building that was formerly the Hotel Arthur, contained six apartments where 13 people lived, officials said. Everyone else made it out safely, authorities have said.
But others escaped and Sheriff Jeff Smith Thursday credited those cited with ensuring the toll wasn’t worse.
The three were specifically cited for their involvement in rescuing multiple people from the fire building, Smith said.
“They broke a plate glass deadbolt door allowing adults, children and a dog to exit from heavy smoke and heat conditions,” Smith said in an email about the efforts.
“Without the quick response, bravery, professionalism and decisive action of these three individuals acting as a team, this incident certainly could have resulted in further tragedy,” Smith said in a statement. “This type of response and service is something that these members, their families, friends, our office and our communities can certainly be proud of.”
Firefighters were called to the building just after 10:32 p.m. that night. Firefighters from numerous agencies responded and battled the blaze into the morning hours, officials said. The building was deemed a total loss due to heat, smoke and water damage, officials said.
Investigators determined the fire started “from an accidental event involving an air conditioner,” a state spokesperson said in an email Thursday.
Investigators for the state Office of Fire Prevention and Control worked with members of the Fultonville Fire Department, as well as the Montgomery County Fire Coordinator’s Office and Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office on the investigation.