2 die in Arlington house fire

March 15

Two people died Saturday in a wind-whipped blaze that turned a house in South Arlington into an inferno. Neither had been identified by late in the evening.

The fire broke out about 3:30 p.m. at a single-family house in the 1900 block of South Langley Street in the Nauck area, fire officials said.

Witnesses reported hearing what sounded like two explosions, said deputy Arlington fire marshal Brian McGraw. It was not clear what caused them.

Arriving firefighters found the two-story house ablaze, McGraw said. Flames were leaping through the peaked roof of the wood-and-siding structure. Black smoke billowed into the air.

Several people had left the house on their own by the time firefighters arrived, McGraw said.

The firefighters’ initial attempt to enter the structure was thwarted by the intensity of the flames, he said.

“It just shows how quickly a fire can spread,” McGraw said.

The dryness of the day and a stiff breeze with gusts of more than 20 mph apparently made the blaze more intense, he said.

One firefighter suffered burns and was taken to a hospital. Authorities said he was to be held overnight for observation.

Little information was available about the two people found dead. McGraw said only that they were older.

The Nauck neighborhood, where the fire broke out, is inside a triangle formed by South Glebe Road, South Walter Reed Drive and Four Mile Run. The house was near a neighborhood landmark, the red-brick Mt. Zion Baptist Church.

The neighborhood, west of Interstate 395 and the Army-Navy Country Club, contains single-family houses, many with porches shaded by trees.

As of late Saturday, officials said, investigators were waiting for the house to be stabilized before entering.

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Clarence Williams is the night police reporter for The Washington Post and has spent the better part of 13 years standing next to crime scene tape, riding in police cars or waking officials in the middle of night to gather information about breaking news in and around Washington.
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