Promenade Tower Plans To Allow Residents To Return Tuesday, Ten Days After Fire

Residents of the Promenade Towers apartment complex in Bethesda should be able to return to their homes on Tuesday, 10 days after a fire forced them to live elsewhere, officials said.

A fire at the north tower of the Pooks Hill Road co-op apartment complex on Saturday morning left more than 1,100 people displaced from 500 units.

Since then, north tower residents have stayed at hotels, with friends or relatives, or at a local Red Cross shelter. They have been allowed to return to their apartments to retrieve things during the day, but are barred from returning at night because the north tower has been without water and electricity.

Residents of the south tower were allowed to return to their homes after the fire was out on Saturday.

The fire, which was deemed to be caused by an accidental electrical problem, caused about $1 million in damage, Montgomery County Fire & Rescue Service spokesman Pete Piringer told Bethesda Beat Monday. The fire was largely contained to a basement utility room, but smoke filled the entire building.

The Red Cross and county officials opened a shelter at the Gwendolyn Coffield Community Center on Lyttonsville Road over the weekend, providing beds, meals and health services to Promenade residents.

The Red Cross closed that shelter and opened a shelter at the Promenade tennis club Tuesday to attract more residents by offering services closer to the apartments, Red Cross spokeswoman Rebekah Jastremski said.

That day, the shelter had four overnight stays and served dinner to 22 people, she said.

More than 50 Red Cross volunteers have helped support the operation, she said.

Carl Hyde, the community manager for Promenade Towers, said, “I’m not going to give you any information,” but other staff at the complex and the Red Cross confirmed that Tuesday was the planned date for returns.

Charles Pekow, who lives on the 11th floor in the north tower, said he initially stayed at the shelter at the community center before staying at a hotel and with friends.

He said he wasn’t expecting much when the alarm first went off on Saturday morning.

“Usually, these things are false alarms. This one wasn’t,” he said. “I put on a pair of pants, got down to the third floor and started smelling smoke.”

The Red Cross is now operating a shelter out of the Promenade’s tennis club.


As featured in Bethesda Magazine