9-year-old girl dies in Hyattsville house fire; 3 sisters injured

Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 19, 2011; 8:21 PM

A 9-year-old girl was killed and three of her sisters were injured when a swift and intense fire burned through their rented home Wednesday in Hyattsville, officials said.

Seven people were in the home, in the 4700 block of 40th Avenue, when Marcos Hernandez smelled smoke about 4 a.m. He and his wife desperately tried to get their family out safely, friends and fire officials said.

But Kimberly Hernandez was fatally injured, and one of the couple's 13-year-old twin daughters was critically hurt. Two other daughters and an uncle were in the home at the time of the fire.

The home, like most in the quiet middle-class neighborhood, is built primarily of wood, as is the porch. Once the fire hit that area, the combination of wood and oxygen provided fuel for the blaze, which blew back into the house with frightening speed, said Marc S. Bashoor, acting chief of the Prince George's County fire department.

Neighbors frantically called 911. County and volunteer firefighters arrived within four minutes of the calls, Bashoor said.

They found Kimberly in the dining area and one of Kimberly's 13-year-old sisters in a second-floor bedroom. The other five people managed to escape on their own, officials said.

Neither of the girls had a pulse, and firefighters performed CPR while paramedics provided emergency medical care. Both girls were rushed to hospitals in critical condition.

Kimberly died shortly after arriving at Children's National Medical Center in the District. By Wednesday afternoon, officials said, her critically injured sister had been taken to a hospital in Baltimore, where she could be treated in a hyperbaric chamber. That girl suffered smoke inhalation and burns over 20 percent of her body, officials said.

The other two sisters, 13 and 4, suffered smoke inhalation, authorities said. They were taken to a hospital, where their conditions improved throughout the day. By late Wednesday, their conditions were reported as stable.

The injuries to the adults were not as serious, authorities said.

The parents, identified by a friend as Marcos and Anna Hernandez, were treated at a hospital, officials said.

By Wednesday afternoon, Marcos, in his 40s, had been released and was heading to Baltimore to be with his daughter. He works in construction, a friend said. It was not clear late Wednesday whether Anna Hernandez and the girls' uncle still were hospitalized.

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