A 2-year-old playing with a cigarette lighter accidentally started a fire at a Southeast Washington apartment complex yesterday that caused an estimated $45,000 in damage, fire officials said. Four people were rescued but no one was injured in the blaze, they said.
The fire at 2015 Savannah Ter. SE started about 1:45 p.m. in a bedroom in the second-floor apartment where the child was playing, fire officials said.
Sheila Reeves Courtney, 31, the child's mother, said she was lying on her sofa watching television when her son ran into the room.
"He came in the room running so fast . . . . He had a cigarette lighter in his hand, he laid it on the sofa," Courtney said.
Seconds later Courtney smelled smoke, ran to the bedroom door and saw the flames, she said. She and her son escaped without injury.
In the third-floor apartment above Courtney's, Gloria Fludd and her two daughters heard someone yell "somebody's house is on fire."
Fludd said one of her daughters escaped through the front door but heavy smoke forced Fludd and her other daughter, Rejeanne Johnson, back into the bedroom.
Firefighters rescued the pair through a window, officials said.
Annie Sherrill, another tenant, was rescued from a window in her third-floor apartment. She said she heard people in her building banging on doors to warn the residents.
"I tried calling the fire department before I thought about escaping but all the lines were dead," Sherrill said. "Then I started to see smoke coming out from under my bedroom door . . . . I went to the window for help and the fireman came up with his ladder and got me," she said.
Firefighters Gregory Kinard and Scott Gorton from Rescue Squad 3 were credited with saving Sherrill, Fludd and Johnson, along with a fourth resident, Otto Murphy, who was rescued from a third-floor window, according to fire officials.
Most of the damage was contained to the apartments occupied by Courtney and Fludd, the officials said.