DC Fire and EMS

Resident rescued, dozens displaced after apartment buildings catch fire in Southeast DC

Building management is working to assist displaced residents

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An apartment building on Bowen Road SE caught fire and flames spread to two adjacent buildings Tuesday afternoon, authorities say and video shows.

The fire broke out in the 2600 block of Bowen Road, off Suitland Parkway. Crews began to respond shortly before 2 p.m., DC Fire and EMS said. Many residents were at work at the time.

A second alarm was sounded, and additional crews responded.

One resident who neighbors said is 73 was rescued by ladder because he was unable to get out on his own. He was taken to a hospital for smoke inhalation, officials said. A firefighter also was injured.

A dog in a cage also was rescued from the building.

"The roof is essentially burned off," the chief said.

The fire is believed to have started on a lower level of the building.

Video shows heavy smoke pouring from the roof as flames leap into the sky. Firefighters could be seen spraying water on the flames from the ground and from a ladder.

“We had all just got home,” said resident Tierra Joppy, who escaped with her family. “I was actually in the room putting my daughter to sleep, and we heard the alarm go off. We didn’t pay it no mind until I started smelling smoke, and I looked out the window and all I saw was smoke. And we immediately, just, we barely grabbed anything.”

People were evacuated from the building where the fire began. D.C. Fire and EMS said they believe residents from 28 units are displaced and directed them to the leasing office for help.

Tyquan Holmes, who lived here until recently, said he rushed over to check on his mother, who lives in one of the apartments that was most heavily damaged.

"Everything is gone, so they can't get none of that back, so they gotta start from scratch," he said.

Apartment complex management opened the community center to assist dozens of displaced residents.

"We have the property owners and the regional managers are here and are trying to sort through where to put families and also contacted some of the owners of hotels in case we need to do that," said D.C. Councilmember Trayon White, who represents the area.

A cooling bus was brought in to provide shelter from the heat.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Fire Chief John Donnelly said the building did have smoke detectors. He said he did not know whether it had a sprinkler system.

Stay with NBC Washington for more details on this developing story.

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