‘Where are we going to live?’: Fire tears through DC apartments, sending 2 to hospital, displacing 76

Fire tears through DC apartments, sending 2 to hospital

D.C. firefighters battled a large blaze that sent thick clouds of smoke billowing into the sky, sent two people to the hospital and displaced several others.

One person and a firefighter were taken to the hospital with injuries that were not life-threatening, D.C. Fire and EMS said. Crews also rescued a puppy from the two-alarm fire.

Fire Chief John Donnelly said firefighters located a patient on the second floor and were able to rescue the person using a ground ladder. They were not able to use the stairway to get the person out because of the conditions inside, he added. One member of the rescue squad stayed with the person, who was taken to the hospital for smoke inhalation.

“This was a close call today,” Donnelly said.

The fire in an occupied four-story apartment building on the 2600 block of Bowen Road SE was well underway when firefighters arrived Tuesday afternoon. It extended to two other attached buildings. The heavy fire led to the evacuation of all units, and they continued to fight the blaze from outside using large water streams.

Tierra Joppy lived at one of the buildings and described what she saw as “smoke everywhere.” She said the rental office told her that everything was a total loss.

“If I were able to restart everything, where do I start,” Joppy said. “This is not a car burning up, this is your house.”

Tomeka McNeal was worried about her 15-year-old daughter Christal who was at home when the fire started. Christal McNeal said she got the dog and left.

“Where are we going to live? Our clothes are burned. Are we going to have anything to wear?” were questions Christal McNeal had after she safely got out.

Tomeka McNeal, Christal’s mother, said now they’re waiting on the Red Cross for assistance. The Red Cross said in an X post that they’re assisting residents with “help replacing medications and other essential items, financial assistance, emotional support (and) other recovery resources.”

A puppy is rescued from a fire in Southeast D.C. (Courtesy DC Fire and EMS)
Firefighter try to put out a fire in Southeast D.C. (Courtesy DC Fire and EMS)
puppy rescue
A puppy is rescued from a fire in Southeast D.C. (Courtesy DC Fire and EMS)
dog reunited with owner
Firefighters save a dog from a fire in Southeast D.C. (Courtesy DC Fire and EMS)
puppy rescue
dog reunited with owner

“We don’t have anything but the clothes on our body,” Tomeka McNeal said.

Firefighters started shutting down the exterior water streams by 3 p.m. and started focusing on the hot spots, Donnelly said.

About 100 firefighters are on the scene battling the blaze, said Vito Maggiolo with D.C. Fire.

D.C. Fire confirmed that 76 people were displaced after the fire.

WTOP’s Ana Golden and Jack Moore contributed to this report. WTOP’s Mike Murillo reported from the scene. 

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Abigail Constantino

Abigail Constantino started her journalism career writing for a local newspaper in Fairfax County, Virginia. She is a graduate of American University and The George Washington University.

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