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Man dead in 2-alarm vacant apartment fire in Northeast DC

One person was rescued and taken to the hospital where he later died from his injuries, according to police.

WASHINGTON — A man is dead after a two-alarm fire broke out in a vacant apartment building in Northeast D.C. early Wednesday morning. 

Crews with DC Fire and EMS were called to the 800 block of 20th Street Northeast for a report of a working fire around 4:30 a.m. When firefighters arrived, they found significant fire coming from the building. 

A second alarm was called to get more resources to the scene. About 20 firefighting units and 100 firefighters were called to the scene of the fire. Roads around the fire were shutdown while crews worked to bring the fire under control. Roads have since been reopened.

DC Fire officials said the rear porches of the two-story, four-unit apartment building were involved, and fire extended to the first and second floors of the building, as well as the attic space. Flames were also threatening other buildings in the area, DC Fire said in a tweet Wednesday. The fire also extended to another vacant building, and caused damage to a third apartment building that was occupied. Responding firefighters did not offer details on the extent of the damage.

Firefighters report one person was rescued from inside the building and taken to an area hospital with critical life-threatening injuries. Investigators with DC Police later said that person, only identified as an adult man, had died from his injuries.

Responding crews got the fire under control around 5:15 a.m., but crews remained on scene for several hours monitoring the fire. Firefighters will return to the scene of the fire later Wednesday to hand out information about fire safety to neighbors in the area.

Fire crews on scene said vacant building fires are a problem in the winter time as people who are experiencing homelessness move inside to escape colder temperatures.

"I think that's a problem anywhere there's a vacant building. That's why we work hard with the Department of Buildings to report those and keep them secure," the DC Fire chief said in a press briefing.

A neighbor said the particular building was the subject of complaints in the past.

"This was extraordinarily foreseeable," the neighbor said. "Myself and other neighbors have steadily complained to the District about the vacant buildings in our community."

The cause of this fire is still under investigation.

Earlier Wednesday, DC Fire crews also extinguished a building fire on U Street in Northwest. A firefighter was hurt fighting that fire. 

This is a developing story. We are working to gather additional details. Stay with WUSA9 for the latest updates as they come in to our newsroom.

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