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Fireball critically injures 2 Prince George's Co. firefighters

Sunday - 2/26/2012, 8:22am  ET

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The Fire Department says the high winds caused a 'fireball' inside the house Friday night. (Courtesy of the Prince George's County Fire Department)

911 Tape

Neighbors call in the fire.

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RIVERDALE, Md. - Two firefighters remain in critical but stable condition after they were burned by a fire ball that ripped through a Riverdale home later Friday night, according to the Prince George's County Fire Department.

Bladensburg Volunteer Fire Fighter Ethan Sorrell, 21, remains in critical but stable condition with burns to his airway.

Bladensburg Volunteer Fire Fighter Kevin O'Toole, 22, is also in critical but stable condition with 2nd and 3rd degree burns over 40 percent of his body.

Sorrell and O'Toole are both being treated for their injuries at the burn unit at the Washington Hospital Center.

Riverdale Volunteer Fire Fighter Michael McLary, 19, has been released after receiving treatment for bruised ribs.

A total of seven firefighters were injured when fighting the fire at a house on the 6400 block of 57th Avenue. Most were treated and released that night.

Dozens of family, friends and other firefighters remained at the hospital Friday night into Saturday.

Prince George's County Executive Rushern Baker released a statement asking for county residents to think of and pray for the firefighter's recovery.

"Our first responders put their lives on the line every day and I know that they are all effected by this tragic incident," said Baker.

Firefighters across the country have offered support to the injured firefighters.

Firefighters arrived on the scene just after 9 p.m. to find the one story home with a basement on fire on both levels. The firefighters were doing an interior attack on the fire when they realized the high winds would cause a problem."

"They immediately recognized within seconds that there was a problem, and ordered an evacuation," says Fire Chief Mark Bashoor.

Bashoor says the evacuation order was given just seconds before the fire ball ripped through the house.

The department says that the fireball was caused by a sudden rush of air, fanned by the high winds, entered the house from the rear.

911 callers that reported the fire describe the way the wind is whipping the fire around. You can listen to some of the frantic calls from neighbors to the right.

The firefighters were able to regroup after the fireball and put out the fire about 25 minutes later.

About 65 firefighters, paramedics and incident commanders were on the scene on the fire.

Firefighters are still investigating the cause of the fire. They're not sure if the anybody lives in the house, since they thought it was vacant, but a car was parked in the driveway.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)