By Sally Voth
Five people are alive and uninjured after using an escape ladder to evacuate the second floor of a burning building Thursday night, according to Frederick County Assistant Fire Marshal William Pifer III.
Firefighters were dispatched to ProLawn, 280 Victory Road, Winchester shortly before 11 p.m. Thursday, according to a news release from the Frederick County Fire and Rescue Department.
When responders arrived, they could see smoke and flames on the roof, it states. According to the release, there was moderate to heavy smoke and fire inside the building's warehouse portion, but firefighters were able to attack it from inside, and put the blaze out in about 80 minutes.
While there were smoke detectors at the commercial building, "they weren't functioning at the time of the fire," Pifer said Friday afternoon.
He said investigators were still trying to determine if the five people inside the building when the fire started worked there or lived there. He said they had all gotten out by the time fire crews arrived at the scene with the help of an escape ladder that hooks onto a window sill.
"They actually had one of those on the second floor that they used to get out of the building," Pifer said.
He explained that part of the building is a warehouse and that there is a second-floor mezzanine.
The release states "extensive repairs" would have to be done before the building could be reopened, and estimates damages at $750,000.
In addition to the county department, fire and rescue departments from Millwood, Greenwood and Stephens City, as well as Winchester and Clarke County, responded to the fire, as did the an accelerant canine team and investigators from the fire marshal's office, according to the release.
A man who answered the phone at ProLawn on Friday afternoon said no one was available for comment. According to the company's website, www.prolawn.com, they use an "organic approach," and serve the Northern Shenandoah Valley, as well as Northern Virginia, Fredericksburg and parts of West Virginia.
Contact staff writer Sally Voth at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or firstname.lastname@example.org