Surge protector blamed for devastating Northeast DC fire; 4 injured

A surge protector is being blamed for a fire that destroyed a two-story Northeast D.C. duplex before dawn on Sunday, injuring three residents and a firefighter.

D.C. Fire and EMS were dispatched to a residential building fire at 445 Madison St., NE, near the Riggs LaSalle Recreation Center on Riggs Road, just before 5 a.m. Sunday. Firefighters faced heavy fire conditions, knocking done the fierce blaze which had extended to the second floor and broken through windows.

Four people were in the building when the fire broke out, D.C. Fire tweeted. Three occupants were injured.

One person was transported in critical condition with potentially life-threatening injuries, D.C. Fire spokesman Vito Maggiolo told WTOP.

Two other residents made a daring escape to safety: A 2-year-old boy was tossed out of the second floor, while a 14-year-old girl jumped, Maggiolo said. Both were transported with non life-threatening injuries and are expected to recover.

D.C. Fire and EMS also tweeted that the family’s dog did escape from the blaze unharmed, but couldn’t be located right away. A television reporter saw the dog, and eventually it was recovered. The dog is safe and staying with a neighbor.

A firefighter was also transported for injuries not deemed life-threatening.

Video posted to D.C. Fire’s Twitter account showed heavy damage in the fire’s aftermath, which much of the duplex’s interior ruined:

By mid-Sunday morning, investigators had determined the cause was an electrical surge protector placed under a couch.

Additional video on social media gave a glimpse into the dangerous conditions first responders initially faced:

The capital region Red Cross assisted eight people displaced by the fire. Functional smoke alarms were credited with helping save lives.

Below is a map of the area:

WTOP’s Andrea Cambron contributed to this report.

Alejandro Alvarez

Alejandro Alvarez joined WTOP as a digital journalist and editor in June 2018. He is a reporter and photographer focusing on politics, political activism and international affairs.

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