WASHINGTON - A large fire on the U street corridor in Northwest D.C. has displaced residents at an upscale condo building.
The two-alarm fire broke out at the Lincoln Condominiums Friday morning. The blaze was in the inside courtyard condo on the 12th Street side and went all the way to the top of the four-story building.
(Video courtesy: Vito Maggiolo)
Residents thought it was a false alarm, so they were pretty scared when they saw smoke and fire.
“When I was coming down the stairs, the stairwell was a little smoky,” said resident Chris Wright. “I poked my head out on the first floor and I saw smoke rolling down the hallway.”
This was a tough fire to put out because firefighters could not get direct access to the courtyard.
“A fire that started we believe on the first or second floor, which extended on the exterior of the building and extended to the roof area,” said D.C. Fire and EMS Deputy Fire Chief Robert Callahan. “The fire was quickly knocked down and contained. However, we had significant damage to the building, significant water damage.”
D.C. Fire and EMS had at least 20 pieces of equipment to cover the square block. Under the mutual aid agreement, firefighters responded from Montgomery County, Prince George's County and Arlington, so D.C. didn’t have to put all its resources in one place.
The hundreds of people who live in the building were not allowed back inside.
“We’ve been out here for a while,” said Elisabeth Miller. “Fire trucks were here immediately checking out the scene. It took a while to put it out. They had to go up over the top of the building to get into the courtyard area.”
In the late afternoon, the fire department escorted residents inside to get some personal belongings.
“They will probably be displaced tonight,” said Callahan. “All the utilities have been shut down in the building. There is significant water damage.”
This building has had false alarms and drills in the past.
“You could see the smoke through the doors, so it was obvious it wasn't a drill,” said Dhyana Sankar.
“I was sitting in my unit thinking I was going to wait this one out and then I started to smell smoke and I thought, ‘Okay, this is for real. The first time in over ten years I’ve lived here.”
Residents were mostly relieved that no one was injured. But they had to find somewhere else to sleep Friday night.
The Red Cross is helping the condo residents find a temporary place to stay.
A fire department spokesperson told us that the cause of the fire is still under investigation. D.C. police and ATF are also helping with the investigation.