COLUMBIA, Md. - When Michelle Preston stepped off the bus from her early shift at work, she smelled the fire scene before she saw it.
It was only after fire fighters explained to her what happened did she realize the elderly woman and friend she would help look after barely survived this fire.
"I just saw her last night. I was supposed to stop by in the morning and I feel guilty. Had I stopped in the morning maybe she would have gotten out the bed and been more up and useful. I've been worried about her for a long time."
Her friend was fighting cancer she says; the days were beginning to be a struggle.
Now this, a fire investigators seem to think started in the woman's apartment.
Howard County Fire released photos of the rescue, pulling that victim out of the apartment building but the situation quickly got even more dire.
"She went into cardiac arrest prior to when we got to her. We wound up resuscitating her on scene and then transporting her by ambulance to Bayview Medical Center," said spokesperson Jackie Cutler.
Bayview is where the woman remains in critical condition.
Clean up lasted well into the noon hour as fire investigators looked for a cause and sifted through the burned apartment.
Michelle Preston hoping the slogan on the side of the fire truck that reads, "Everybody goes home" applies to her friend as well
"I'm afraid. I'm really nervous. I am looking forward to having her come back home. She was the only person I met in my 12 years residing in Columbia Landing Apartments was her."
Howard County says five apartments were affected by this morning's fire.
Fire investigators remain on scene they say until they can determine a cause.