A man died trying to escape an early-morning fire at an eight-story apartment building on 16th Street in northwest Washington.
Firefighters said as many as 40 people had to be treated at the scene outside of the Sarbin Towers apartments in Mount Pleasant, while eight others were taken to hospitals, including four with critical injuries.
D.C. Fire spokesman Pete Piringer said two people are listed in serious condition and another three are listed in critical condition, including a child. Piringer said 125 people have been displaced.
The nephew of the 38-year-old man who died told NBC4's John Schriffen that he and his uncle were trying to escape out the window. They tied a phone cord around a refrigerator and threw the cord out the window. The nephew then used the cord to climb down to the third floor, where he jumped to a tree. He thought his uncle was right behind him, but his uncle fell to his death, Schriffen reported.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation, but officials said it may have started in a hallway on the fifth floor, NBC4's Tracee Wilkins reported. Officials said they have not ruled out the possibility of arson, especially considering the number of vehicle fires that have been reported in the area.
The nephew said his uncle may have saved his life by not letting him go out into the hall.
Some of those who made it out of the building were evaluated by medical personnel on a Metrobus on 16th Street. They may need to be taken to the Red Cross for shelter if they are not able to go back to their homes. Temporary shelter is now available at a Columbia Heights Recreational Center located at 15 Girard Street NW.
16th Street was blocked from Park Road to Harvard. Lamont Street was closed from 16th to 17th streets. Alternate routes included Georgia Avenue, 14th, 13th and 11th streets for northbound or southbound traffic.