DC Fire and EMS

2 Dead, 40 Apartments Uninhabitable After Southwest DC Fire: Officials

Flames were shooting from a third-floor unit when firefighters arrived, and a young man helped warn neighbors that the blaze was a real threat, one witness said

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Two people were killed and 40 apartments were left uninhabitable after a fire tore through an apartment building in Southwest Washington, D.C., early Tuesday, officials said.

Rashidah Denton, 44, and 43-year-old John Wesley Hunt died in the blaze, D.C. Fire and EMS said. At least one other resident was evaluated for injuries, officials said, but information on their condition wasn’t immediately released. No firefighters were reported injured.

Firefighters rushed to the eight-story building in the 300 block of G Street SW after 2 a.m. and found flames leaping from one unit. Smoke filled multiple floors, D.C. Fire and EMS said. A column of smoke could be seen rising to the roof of the building.

Residents said they heard a pop, heard a woman scream and then saw the roaring fire begin.

A resident told News4 she was grateful for a neighbor who ran through the hallway, shouting a warning that the blaze was no false alarm.

“A young man from one of the apartments next to where I live literally was screaming, saying, ‘Look, everyone, get out. This is a real fire, you need to get out,’” resident Marvellous Mhlanga-Nyahuye said. “He was trying, actually, to knock on the apartment where the smoke was coming from.”

She took a video of herself running to safety and shouting a warning to others as dark smoke filled the hallway. "Get out! Get out!" she repeated.

“It was really, really bad. It was black, you couldn’t see anything. You could smell it,” Mhlanga-Nyahuye said.

Mhlanga-Nyahuye was able to find that young man, named Robert Ingram, and thank him for sounding the alarm.

Two people are dead and 40 apartments are “uninhabitable” after a fire in Southwest D.C., officials say. News4's Justin Finch reports.

“I seen it coming from that apartment. I immediately pulled the fire alarm to try to tell everyone I could,” Ingram said.

He said he heard a cry for help and then tried to save the person who made it. 

“I kicked the door in, and smoke started flowing out,” Ingram said. 

He didn’t find anyone, so he started helping people get down the stairs, he said.

A hundred fire personnel members squashed the flames in about 15 minutes and started checking apartments for any residents who needed help, officials said.

D.C. Fire spokesman Vito Maggiolo said some people were told to wait in their apartments to avoid dangerous, smoky conditions in hallways. A video obtained by News4 shows thick, dark smoke pouring into a third-floor hallway.

A Metrobus arrived to give residents a place to warm up, D.C. Fire and EMS said.

The building’s entire third floor was deemed unsafe due to fire damage and hazards — preventing those residents from collecting any personal items. Apartment managers are set to help them find temporary housing.

Other residents were allowed to go back inside after several hours.

Firefighters planned to return to the building and help residents test or replace smoke alarms as needed.

Fire and EMS Chief John Donnelly responded to the building later Tuesday to talk with residents and review safety measures. 

“These are tragedies, and our thoughts go out to the families of the victims,” he said. 

There was a two-alarm fire on the third-floor of the building in October 2019. No one was hurt in that blaze. 

Information on the cause of the fire wasn't immediately released.

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