Five persons were injured, one critically, in a predawn fire yesterday at a rooming house in Northeast Washington. Nine other persons were safely evacuated from the home about 3 a.m. Fire officials said the fire at 612 14th St. NE. may have been deliberately set.

Four of the injured persons were taken to D.C. General Hospital. The fifth was admitted to Washington Hospital Center. The other nine residents were given shelter by the American Red Cross at a New York Avenue motel.

Fire officials said the blaze began on the first floor in an area between the kitchen and a bedroom. The fire destroyed those two rooms, an adjacent hallway and caused heavy smoke damage throughout the two-story brick town house.

Investigators estimated the damage at $11,000. They declined to give details of how the blaze began other than to say that the fire was "suspicious."

Fire officials identified the victims at D.C. General Hospital as Leo Howard, 45, who was in critical condition; Theodore Kaiser, 52, Jackson Bussey, 58, and Irvin Ragland, 51. All four suffered smoke inhalation. Fire officials said Kaiser may have jumped from the second floor to escape the fire.

The fifth victim, Gloria Williams, 42, was in serious condition at Washington Hospital Center. She also suffered smoke inhalation.

Fire officials were continuing their investigation of the blaze late yesterday.