Large fire in Northwest DC destroys home under renovation

Three people are displaced and one firefighter injured after a massive blaze near D.C.’s Embassy Row destroyed a multimillion dollar home and extended to two adjacent houses early Wednesday.

Firefighters were dispatched at 12:41 a.m. for a fire at 2601 31st St. NW, in a neighborhood between Embassy Row and Woodley Park. They arrived to find a three-story home fully engulfed in flames, which had extended to homes on both sides.

Images posted to social media show smoke billowing over Northwest D.C. visible miles away in Navy Yard and Vermont Avenue, and from across the Potomac in Arlington. The smoke plume was also picked up on weather radar.

Peter Kovler, who lives nearby, said he awoke in the middle of night to sirens and the fire’s glow shining through his window. Firefighters banging on his front door warned him and his wife to leave the area immediately for their own safety.

“For the first few minutes, it was terrifying,” Kovler told WTOP’s Kyle Cooper. “As soon as we got outside, we could see that they were being extremely cautious.”

Kovler described seeing flames “shooting up” into the night sky, and was fortunate fire personnel were able to contain the inferno before it could spread farther into the neighborhood.

“Something like that could’ve quickly turned into an enormous human disaster, and we’re just feeling very fortunate that did not happen,” he said.

The original structure — which was under renovation — has largely collapsed, D.C. Fire and EMS said. The houses to the left and right received light to moderate damage; residents from one of the adjacent homes are displaced.

About 75 fire personnel and 20 pieces of equipment responded to the scene. A second alarm was called to mobilize additional resources. “Fire is on cul de sac with steep hill behind,” the fire department later tweeted. “Very challenging.”

One firefighter was transported to a hospital with an injury evaluated as nonlife threatening.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Below is a map of the area:

WTOP’s Kyle Cooper contributed to this report.

Alejandro Alvarez

Alejandro Alvarez joined WTOP as a digital reporter and editor in June 2018. He is a writer and photojournalist focusing on politics, political activism and national affairs, with recent multimedia contributions to Reuters, MSNBC and PBS.

Laura Spitalniak

Laura Spitalniak joined the WTOP edit desk at the beginning of 2020. She previously worked at WAMU, ABC News and CBS News. She is a graduate of the Philip Merrill College of Journalism and the daughter of a librarian.

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