Debra Lee dies in Leisure World fire in Silver Spring

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SILVER SPRING, Md. (WJLA) - Investigators say 63-year old Debra Lee was killed Wednesday when a fire started on the balcony of her 9th floor apartment.

The fire was in an upper-level residence at Leisure World in the 15000 block of Interlachen Drive in Silver Spring.

Fire crews were dispatched to the fire at about 12:20 p.m. and the blaze was put out about 15 minutes later.

The general manager of Leisure World says between 350-400 people live in the building and many have physical disabilities, which made evacuating the building difficult.

Debra Lee, the woman who died, suffered from lung issues and was on a breathing machine, the general manager says.

Fifth floor resident Mary Van Harn grabbed her cat Amanda and escaped down a stairwell.

"It took a lot of teamwork to get down the stairwell, but we made it down, I'm happy to be alive,” she says.

Seventy-five firefighters helped evacuate nearly 300 residents, some carrying the disabled in wheelchairs to safety.

Firefighters say the building is fully equipped with fire sprinklers, which kept flames from spreading.

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