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Five Rowhouses Damaged in Northeast

Families Displaced, But Fire's Cause Not Determined

By Martin Weil and Clarence Williams
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, December 22, 2004; Page B04

A spreading blaze that broke out last night in a tight line of rowhouses in the District damaged five dwellings, displacing residents from at least two. No injuries were reported.

The fire was called in about 8:30 p.m. in the 2400 block of Third Street NE, north of Rhode Island Avenue, according to fire department spokesman Alan Etter.


Fire engulfs the rear of a home in the 2400 block of Third Street NE. Residents of at least two rowhouses were displaced. (Jim Korpi For The Washington Post)

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"It was kind of frightening," said Mittie Robinson, who lives across the street. "You don't know where it's going to spread to."

The cause of the fire, which apparently started in a house that had been vacant for several months, was not known immediately.

Several residents said the screaming sirens and throbbing engines of fire equipment alerted them to the blaze, which they said apparently was concentrated in the rear of the houses. Etter said it may have smoldered for a time before being spotted, facilitating its spread.

Three houses were damaged by fire; two others by smoke and water.

"It's a big fire," said Clarence Edward Shaw III. "You could see the light of flames above the roof" of one of the houses. In the street outside, he said, was a firefighting army. "It's sirens, trucks, ambulances and cops out there," along with "a crowd of people" watching, he said. Witnesses counted 10 trucks, and Etter said 100 firefighters and rescue personnel were on hand.

One woman was in her kitchen when she spotted flames, went to the door and saw the house behind hers "all up in a big blaze."

Firefighters kept the flames from Kim Dulic's house, but not the smoke and water. "It could have been still so much worse," she said.

Staff writer Allan Lengel contributed to this report.


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