Three persons were burned to death late last night in a fire that broke out in an apartment above a barber shop on Benning Road NE.

The fire department was called at midnight to the blaze on the top floor of a three-story residential-commercial building at 2029 Benning Rd.

The victims included two men and a woman. All were burned severely. Their indentities could not be learned immediately.

Five persons wre evacuated from the building and at least one injured woman was taken for treatment to D.C. General Hospital early today.

She was identified as Agnes Scott, 42. Hospital authorities said she was conscious, but her condition was listed as "undetermined." They said she was suffering from smoke inhalation.

Authorities said the blaze began in an apartment at the rear of the 52-year-old brick building, which is at the corner of 21st Street and Benning Road NE.

D.C. Police Capt. Clarence Dickerson, of the fifth police district, said it appeared that the blaze was started by a cigarette burn on a bed.

Dickerson said indications were found that the fatal fire broke out during or after a party. Liquor bottles were strewn about the apartment, he said.

Authorities said that firefighters took about 20 minutes to bring the fire under control, and about 25 minutes more to extinguish it.

They said that the fire damaged only the apartment where it broke out, but other apartments in the building, which is located at a busy Benning Road metro bus stop, were damaged by smoke.

An exact assessment of the damage to the building, which contains four apartments -- two on each upper floor -- could not be learned immediately.

It was not clear early this morning where the persons forced onto the snow-covered street would be housed for the remainder of the night.

Neighbors who live near the building, which houses the Bus Stop Barber Shop, said they were acquainted by sight with the victims, but could not identify them fully.

Two of the victims were pronounced dead st D.C. General Hospital, about two miles directly south of the scene, and the third was pronounced dead at the scene.

One firefighter was taken from the area suffering from smoke inhalation.