(Courtesy of the D.C. fire department.)

Southern Avenue is closed between Wheeler and Naylor roads as police investigate the crash, which occurred around 4:30 a.m., said Pete Piringer, a D.C. fire department spokesman.

The car downed one telephone pole in front of the United Medical Center in the 1300 block of Southern Avenue and then came to rest against a second pole. The crash caused the vehicle to catch fire and the women were trapped inside because the car was so badly damaged, Piringer said. The women were pronounced dead at the scene.

Police said the cause of the crash is still being probed, and Piringer said speed may have been a factor. Police have not released the identities of the women

A D.C. police spokesman said he expected Southern Avenue to remain closed through the morning rush hour.

Piringer said the crash knocked out power to some customers in the area and a Pepco crew was on the scene repairing the downed pole.