A 72-year-old man was killed and several pets died yesterday in a fire caused when the man's cigarette ignited the couch he was sleeping on, D.C. fire officials said.
Reuben King, of the 400 block of Missouri Avenue NW, was severely burned in the blaze, which began about 1:20 a.m. King was pronounced dead at Washington Hospital Center less than an hour later. An autopsy is being conducted.
The four-story brick building where neighbors said King lived with his adult daughter lacked working smoke detectors, said Alan Etter, a spokesman for the D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department. The owners of the building will be fined $1,000, he said.
"It creates a potentially disastrous situation, which is why you get fined," Etter said.
Two snakes, including a 61/2-foot python, a large pit bull and a cat also died in the blaze.
A woman, identified by neighbors as King's daughter, escaped the fire, as did a male occupant of the apartment. A 35-year-old man who lived in another apartment in the same building was treated for smoke inhalation at the scene.
The fire destroyed the apartment but didn't spread throughout the building.
Odell Hogue, 60, who lives across the hallway from King's apartment, said he awoke early yesterday to someone banging on his apartment door, shouting, "Get out of the building, man. There's a fire in here."
Hogue said that he attempted to leave from his front door but that the door's handle burned his hand, forcing him to jump from his first-floor bathroom window.
"The fire alarm didn't work," Hogue said. "Even all that smoke didn't set off the alarm."
Hogue said King was a friendly man who had moved into the building a few years ago.
In a second fire yesterday afternoon, a 25-year-old woman was seriously injured when she jumped from the second-floor window of her apartment in the 200 block of 16th Street NE.
The fire began about 1 p.m. when a halogen lamp fell onto a couch in the apartment's living room, fire officials said. The woman apparently attempted to move the burning couch into the hallway to prevent the blaze from spreading. But as the fire continued to burn, she jumped out the window, landing on her head.
Firefighters witnessed the woman's 15-foot leap. "She didn't just jump," Etter said. "She dived out the window."
Unconscious when she landed, the woman was taken to Washington Hospital Center. She suffered injuries to her neck and back but is expected to make a full recovery, Etter said.
Monique Johnson, 32, who lives in the apartment with her two children and the injured woman, said she tried to extinguish the blaze with water and a hallway fire extinguisher. Her children were downstairs at their aunt's apartment when the fire broke out.