A fire in a senior building in the Foggy Bottom section of the District Tuesday has caused six residents to be taken to a hospital for smoke inhalation, with two in critical condition.
“Considering their age, it’s a tenuous situation,” Jennifer Donelan, with DC Fire and EMS, told WTOP.
Residents were being carried down ladders after the fire, which started around 11:30 a.m. in an eight-story building on 24th Street Northwest, near G Street and Virginia Avenue, said Vito Maggiolo, of DC Fire and EMS.
When fire crews got there, they saw fire coming from a second-floor apartment, as well as heavy smoke “spiraling into the upper floors,” he said.
They were able to extinguish the fire in the apartment, he added, but they still needed to get people, some of whom were “in distress,” out of the building, often through hand ladders at the back of the building.
“This is a senior-citizens facility, so we have people who are mobility-challenged,” Maggiolo said, “and of course that makes the rescues more complicated.”
Donelan said the building has 140 units, and that the second alarm was issued so that more firefighters could help out with the rescues.
Firefighters have to clear the smoke before they can work out what the damages are, and how many people might need somewhere else to stay, Maggiolo added.
Bill Watkins, the caregiver for a woman who lives on the sixth floor, said he heard an alarm and smelled smoke, tried to get the woman out, but people who were injured on the staircase blocked his way. He put a fan in the window to blow fresh air into the apartment, and went to get help.
He told firefighters about the people on the staircase, and he could tell from a Google Nest camera that the woman he cares for was all right.
“We’re like glue,” Watkins said. “And when we’re not together, we’re worried about each other.”
WTOP’s Kristi King contributed to this report.