The mother of two small children who were burned to death in a row house fire a year ago yesterday has filed a $20 million damage suit in D.C. Superior Court charging that the city was negligent when it closed the five station three blocks from their home for budget reasons.

The station, Engine Company No. 10, was "out of service," the day of the fire. For more than a year prior to the blaze, which occured at 1258 Neal St. NE, some of the city's fire companies were open on a rotating schedule in an effort to cut fire department expenditures.

The suit alleges that efforts to save the two children. Mecca Del 'Andra Chandler. 1, and LeLawne Dupree Chandler 3, were delayed while firefighters waited for pumper trucks to arrive at the house and extinquish the flames.

Firefighters from a hook and ladder truck company, the first to arrive at the scene, attempted immediately to rescue the children, but were forced from the house by smoke and flames, it was reported at the time.

If Engine Company No. 10, which has two trucks to pump water, has responded to the call, "rescue efforts to been undertaken minutes earlier," their mother, Patricia Z. Chandler, claimed in the suit.

The suit alleged the District implemented the cost cutting plan despite warnings from fire officials that the colosure would pose a safety hazard.