Grieving father champions Montgomery County fire safety bill in daughter's memory

The father of a woman who died in a Silver Spring apartment fire in 2023 delivered emotional testimony Tuesday to lawmakers in Montgomery County.  

It came as the Montgomery County Council opened hearings on a new bill to force landlords to tell tenants if their buildings have working sprinkler systems. 

Cesar Diaz's daughter, Melanie, died in a fire at the Arrive Silver Spring in February 2023. 

Cesar Diaz came to Maryland from Florida and told FOX 5 he knows nothing can bring back his daughter Melanie, who was killed in the Arrive Silver Spring apartment building in February. 

Diaz said that he wants to make sure nobody else loses their lives because they don’t know if their apartment has a working sprinkler system.


'She was a great person': Family mourns loss of daughter killed in Silver Spring apartment fire

The family of Melanie Diaz, the woman killed in Saturday's deadly fire at a Silver Spring apartment building, says she filled everyone's life with happiness.

His daughter, Melanie, was just 25 years old when she died. Smoke alarms or sprinklers weren't required due to the building’s age. 

On Tuesday, her father testified in support of a bill forcing landlords to tell residents if a building has working sprinklers and alarms. It would also create a 24-hour tenant emergency number and provide residents with emergency plans. Diaz said the detectors would not cost much money. 

"My daughter died for 83 cents a month," Diaz said. "I lost my daughter because they didn’t provide the smoke detector, the fire sprinklers, and fire extinguishers for my daughter."

 "We’re not ‘normal, but we’re here to fight for these people," he continued.


Maryland State Fire Marshal advocates for sprinklers after deadly Silver Spring apartment fire

A devastating fire at an apartment building in Silver Spring on Saturday left one woman dead, 19 hurt, and hundreds displaced, raising questions about the building's fire safety systems.

The bill also forces landlords to tell tenants how to get renters' insurance. At the Arrive Silver Spring apartments, some tenants told FOX 5 that many residents still don’t know about emergency procedures at the building, while others say they have been notified. 

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Father of Silver Spring fire victim pushes for legislation on sprinkler disclosure

The bill’s sponsor, Councilmember Kate Steward, said too many tenants countywide need more information on how they’re protected.

"In the lease agreements, many people thought when they signed them it said there was insurance, but that insurance was for the landlord, not the tenant and their possessions," Councilmember Stewart explained. 

A report by the Montgomery County Fire and Explosives Investigation unit looking into the Arrive Silver Spring building fire determined that no crime was committed. 

FOX 5 reached out to the building operators on Tuesday for a comment, but we are still waiting for a response.