Fire officials: Hydrants hindered firefighters battling Lanham apartment complex fire

- Prince George’s County firefighters believe they may have been able stop an apartment fire in Lanham from spreading to multiple buildings if they had had better access to different fire hydrants.

The cause of the fire, which broke out in the 5300 block of 85th Avenue at around 3:30 p.m. Monday, is still under investigation.

RELATED: Dozens displaced after 3-alarm fire breaks out in Prince George's County apartment complex

Here is what caused the problem – according to firefighters, the hydrants closest to the fire are only connected to a four-inch water main, meaning they weren’t large enough to pump out the amount of water required to extinguish such a large blaze.

Instead, firefighters connected their hoses to hydrants about one-quarter of a mile away on 85th Avenue and Annapolis Road. Those hydrants are connected to water mains that measure eight and 10 inches respectively, according to Prince George’s County Fire and EMS spokesperson Mark Brady.

“We needed a lot of water and a lot of water pressure, and we just couldn’t get it out of the hydrants here,” Brady said.

When asked if firefighters would have been able to contain the blaze earlier under different conditions, he added, “I think we probably would have been able to extinguish it certainly before it extended down four buildings' worth.”

On Tuesday, some residents of the apartment complex said that news was difficult to learn.

“It’s a problem,” said Paul Beckford. “You’re talking a bunch of people displaced. Nowhere to go. So yeah, it’s pretty sad.”

A woman who answered a call placed to Hilltop Apartments said the organization manages the apartments that caught on fire, but declined to comment further.

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