Woman critically hurt in DC house fire; hoarding hinders fire crews

D.C. firefighters had to fight flames and search for victims in a house with "severe hoarding conditions." (Courtesy D.C. Fire and EMS)
D.C. firefighters put out a house fire in the 1300 block of Rittenhouse Street Monday morning. They encountered severe hoarding conditions inside. (Courtesy D.C. Fire and EMS) (Courtesy D.C. Fire and EMS)
One woman was taken to the hospital with injuries after her clothes caught fire too. (Courtesy D.C. Fire and EMS)
One woman was taken to the hospital after her clothes caught fire too. (Courtesy D.C. Fire and EMS) (Courtesy D.C. Fire and EMS)
Firefighter and paramedic Daniel Atlas, who lives in the neighboring house, extinguished the victim's clothing and contained the fire with an extinguisher until crews arrived. (Courtesy D.C. Fire and EMS)
D.C. firefighter and paramedic Daniel Atlas, who lives in a neighboring house, extinguished the victim’s clothing and contained the fire with an extinguisher until crews arrived. (Courtesy D.C. Fire and EMS) (Courtesy D.C. Fire and EMS)
Hoarding makes it difficult for firefighters to extinguish flames and find occupants. (Courtesy D.C. Fire and EMS)
Hoarding conditions can make it difficult for firefighters to put out a fire and search for residents. (Courtesy D.C. Fire and EMS) (Courtesy D.C. Fire and EMS)
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D.C. firefighters had to fight flames and search for victims in a house with "severe hoarding conditions." (Courtesy D.C. Fire and EMS)
One woman was taken to the hospital with injuries after her clothes caught fire too. (Courtesy D.C. Fire and EMS)
Firefighter and paramedic Daniel Atlas, who lives in the neighboring house, extinguished the victim's clothing and contained the fire with an extinguisher until crews arrived. (Courtesy D.C. Fire and EMS)
Hoarding makes it difficult for firefighters to extinguish flames and find occupants. (Courtesy D.C. Fire and EMS)

WASHINGTON — When D.C. firefighter and paramedic Daniel Atlas saw a woman with her clothes on fire running from a neighbor’s house Monday morning, he sprang into action: Atlas extinguished the woman’s burning clothes and took on the house fire with an extinguisher until help arrived.

The woman, who lives in the 1300 block of Rittenhouse Street, suffered severe burns and was taken to the hospital in critical condition, said Vito Maggiolo, D.C. Fire and EMS spokesman.

“If (Atlas) hadn’t been able to do so, the fire could have potentially developed into quite a serious one because of the considerable hoarding conditions in the home,” Maggiolo said.

Although the house fire was small, crews had difficulty navigating the home because of the hoarding conditions. Hoarding can make it difficult for firefighters to gain access to a home, operate inside and rescue occupants from already dangerous situations, Maggiolo said.

Fire crews were able to extinguish the fire before it spread to the second floor, however.

“In this case, we were lucky that the circumstances turned out the way they did,” Maggiolo said.

The cause of the fire was under investigation.

Below is a map of the neighborhood where the fire happened.

WTOP’s Joslyn Chesson contributed to this report. 


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