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'Your mother's building caught on fire, please call me' | Fire at 8-story apartment building displaces senior citizens

No burns were reported among those that were treated, but six people were taken to the hospital due to smoke inhalation. No firefighters were injured.

WASHINGTON — Firefighters worked fast Tuesday morning to rescue multiple people from an eight-story senior citizen apartment building in Northwest D.C.

DC Fire and EMS responded to the 700 block of 24th Street Northwest for a report of a building fire at St. Mary’s Court. Upon arrival, around 11:40 a.m., they saw smoke coming from the second floor of the multi-story complex. 

The fire was knocked down soon after the firefighters arrived at the scene, according to a 12:06 p.m. tweet by the fire department. Firefighters were able to rescue the residents as heavy smoke captivated all floors. 

Firefighters could be seen at the Foggy Bottom residence gently helping the residents out of the window and holding them in their arms as they climbed down ladders.

Marietta Toal’s 90-year-old mother, Pauline Henderson, was one of the residents who had to be helped out of the building by firefighters.

Toal said the entire situation filled her with uncertainty.

"I got a text and it said, ‘your mother's building caught on fire, please call me," she said.

Toal’s husband, Steve, said the family felt relief when they saw a video tweeted out by DC Fire & EMS of Henderson’s rescue.

"Seeing her on Twitter provided some reassurance because we had no idea what the circumstances were down there," he said.

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By 12:30 p.m., the fire was completely extinguished

"We did ground ladders, we did aerial ladders, and we removed people with the bucket from the tower ladder," said DC Fire & EMS Chief John Donnelly. 

Multiple people were treated at the scene while others, at least six people, were taken to the hospital for breathing problems. No burns were reported among those that were treated.

Stephanie Babyak, a spokesperson with the American Red Cross National Capital & Greater Chesapeake Region said the organization provided impacted residents with food and water on the scene.

“Our disaster team, they’re on the job and they drop what they’re doing to get down there and help people,” she said.

Babyak added the Red Cross was informed by DC Government that 15 people remained displaced as of Tuesday night. Babyak said government officials were working to get those people into hotels.

Some nearby DC churches also came to the assistance of people in need.

Both Western Presbyterian Church and St. Mary's Episcopal Church provided temporary refuge for people who could not go back to their homes.

Firefighters are working to determine the cause of the fire.


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