Bloodmobile catches fire in Bethesda; cause of blaze unknown -- Gazette.Net


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An American Red Cross bloodmobile caught fire Sunday evening in Bethesda following a blood drive at Thomas W. Pyle Middle School.

The cause of the fire is unclear and there were no injuries, said Red Cross spokesman Steve Mavica. Blood pouches from 15 individuals remained intact through the fire, but the blood could have sustained damage from smoke or heat, he said.

“Just to ensure the integrity of the blood we are going to ensure that all 15 units are destroyed,” he said.

The bloodmobile was on its way to Red Cross labs in West Baltimore after a blood drive at Thomas W. Pyle Middle School in Bethesda, when the driver of another vehicle alerted the bloodmobile driver that his vehicle was on fire, Mavica said. When the driver pulled over, he confirmed that the bloodmobile was on fire.

Montgomery County Fire and Rescue responded at about 6:45 p.m. to River Road and Wilson Lane, where they helped remove blood and supplies from the vehicle, said Assistant Chief Scott Graham of Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service.

The bloodmobile is not currently operational and is one of just four bloodmobiles that cover a large region called the Greater Chesapeake and Potomac Blood Services Region of the American Red Cross, Mavica said. The region spans southern Pennsylvania, Maryland, Northern Virginia, and Washington, D.C. Red Cross staff are testing computers and other supplies to determine whether they can be salvaged.

“We’re still trying to determine the extend of the damage, but it’s not operational,” Mavica said of the bloodmobile. “The truck actually had to be towed away.”