The Student News Site of Walt Whitman High School

The Black and White

The Student News Site of Walt Whitman High School

The Black and White

The Student News Site of Walt Whitman High School

The Black and White

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February 27, 2024

Whitman community acts to support victims of Westbard apartment fire

Hundreds+of+residents+in+the+15-story+building+were+evacuated+out+of+their+homes.+
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Hundreds of residents in the 15-story building were evacuated out of their homes.

At 6:00 p.m. on Jan. 6, the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service (MCFRS) responded to a fire in the Westwood Tower Apartments in Bethesda. Fire services evacuated the building and no one was hurt. After further investigation, the MCFRS revealed the fire was caused by an electrical issue within the building.

Hundreds of residents in the 15-story building were evacuated out of their homes. As they await building repairs, most residents, many of whom are Whitman students, are living in a hotel without most of their belongings.

Principal Intern Gregory Miller said he was notified of the situation the morning of Jan. 7  and tried to determine how to help affected students.

“I immediately talked to our team and administrators and I came to Whitman to figure out what we could do to support our families,” Miller said. “On Sunday, we were able to provide dinner here at Whitman and also at the hotel where a lot of our families are during the evaluation of the building.”

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Junior Sasha Liderman said she sympathized with Westbard residents and hopes to help them find a temporary place to stay.

“I couldn’t imagine being evacuated out of my home as abruptly as this,” Liderman said. “I want to make sure everyone around me still has what they need and has a place they can call home for now.”

The Whitman PTSA has also organized several ways for community members to help the affected residents, like setting up a pantry full of necessities at the hotel and creating an Amazon wishlist to support families.

Whitman parent Sara Jaffrey offered to store many of these items so the PTSA could deliver them to Whitman families, she said. 

“I volunteered to collect foods like apples, cookies, bars and many other snacks at my home so they can be delivered to the families,” Jaffery said.

Along with the PTSA, The Whitman Education Foundation and Nourishing Bethesda, a local food drive, have also been working together to deliver produce to families affected by the fire.

“We will also have gift cards [that] will be delivered directly to the schools and the 3 principles will distribute [them] to families according to need,” according to the PTSA website. “You can also purchase a gift card and drop it off with your school’s front office.”

The support for families continues to grow as the PTSA and Whitman work to provide necessities to victims.

“We want to ensure that they feel supported and have the things they need,” Miller said.

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