A 68-year old man who reportedly suffered from a speech impairment that required him to communicate through writing died yesterday morning in a fire that broke out in the three-story row house in Northwest Washington where he lived.

John N. Brown, who lived in a rear room on the second floor of the brick house at 27 Bryant St. NW, died after suffering severe burns in the fire that broke out there shortly before dawn.

Delores Monticue, 42, who lives across the street, was preparing to leave for work shortly after 6 a.m. when she heard the sirens of fire engines approaching and looked out to see flames leaping from the second-floor windows of the house where the victim lived.

"People were running out of the house," she said. No other injuries were reported in the blaze. The cause was not immediately known.

Neighbors described the victim as a short, stocky, feisty man who walked with a cane and wrote notes instead of speaking.

A second man was killed earlier yesterday in a separate fatal fire that broke out in a two-story brick house in far Southeast.

D.C. homicide detectives said Tyrone Wayne Fields died in a fire that broke out about 4:30 a.m. at 2927 M St. SE.

The fire broke out in the furnace area in the basement of the house, and primarily was confined to the basement of the row house, according to fire inspector James Johnson.

He said the cause of the blaze is still under investigation. Damage caused by the fire was described as under $10,000.

The victim was alone in the house at the time of the fire, Johnson said.