D.C. NW fire: Apartment blaze leaves 1 dead, 7 hospitalized, 125 displaced (video, photos)

UPDATE 6:31 p.m.:  Some people jumped from the fifth floor to escape.

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(Photo: TBD Staff)

The fire started in a common area on the fifth floor of a 16th Street apartment building. Residents say they heard a fight around 3:25 a.m., a fire erupted and then many people started to panic.

Isaac Larios grabbed a fire extinguisher and went to the fifth floor to help get people out.

"It was crazy. So many thoughts were going through my head like...who am I going to help out? What am I going to put out? Is this actually going to do something?" said Larios.

Rolando Perez was on the floor where the fire started. He and his uncle jumped from a window. Perez survived but his 38-year-old uncle did not.

"I was out. I was on the floor and I didn't even look back and I looked back and I saw my uncle coming down. I don't even know what happened, what happened to him," said Rolando Perez.

Marco Perez was told of his brother's death just yards from where he died. He wept as community leaders tried to console him.

"I just wanted to let you know that we are very desperate [sic] for my brother's loss. He was a big help. We are in pain," Marco Perez. 

The American Red Cross set up a shelter for displaced residents at the Columbia Height Community Center. Others waited outside the 63 unit apartment hoping to be able to return to their homes.

UPDATE 4:02 p.m.: According to CapitalAlerts,  16th Street NW is now open to traffic in both directions: two lanes outbound and one lane inbound for rush hour traffic. 

UPDATE 8:17 a.m.:  The deceased is reportedly a 38-year-old man, AP reports. D.C. fire department spokesman Pete Piringer says two people are listed in serious condition and another three are listed in critical condition, including a child.  Piringer says 125 people have been displaced and were given shelter at a nearby recreation center.

UPDATE 8:01 a.m.: Southbound traffic is being allowed to travel on two northbound lanes, starting at Lamont St. and ending after Irving St., NW. Traffic control officers are assisting.

UPDATE 7:50 a.m.: The man who jumped from the burning building has died, ABC 7 reports. It is still unclear if the fire at the apartment building is related to the recent string of car fires, happening since August 24, in the Columbia Heights/ Mount Pleasant/16th Street corridor.

UPDATE 6:32 a.m.: 16th Street remains closed from Harvard Road to Park Road. Lamont Street is blocked from 16th St. to 17th St. Possible alternate routes include Georgia Ave, 14th, 13th and 11th streets for northbound or southbound traffic.

UPDATE 6:00 a.m.: D.C. Fire chief Crosswhite says there is no indication of how the fire started. But he believes the fire may have broken out in a common area, which makes it tough for residents on the upper floors to escape. Crosswhite says it's important to have two routes of escape, in the event of a fire, and stressed the importance of having a working smoke detector in your home.

Crosswhite says the jumper is an adult, but he's not sure if they're male or female. Crews were performing CPR on the patient as they transported them to the hospital.

UPDATE 5:38 a.m.: The fire has been contained, but the scene is still hectic. It's expected to greatly impact the morning commute in the area.

UPDATE 5:35 a.m.: Of the eight people transported to the hospital, one was a child. That child is at Children's Hospital. Five others were taken to the Burn Center. Two others were transported to George Washington Hospital Center.

Residents have been evacuated from the building.

Witnesses on the scene tell ABC 7's Courtney Robinson that they saw a number of people with severe burns. One man says he saw someone jump from the building and hit a fence on his way down.

The apartment building is located on 16th Street, between Lamont and Irving streets. It's across from Lincoln Multicultural Middle School.

UPDATE 5:18 a.m.: D.C. Fire Chief Kenneth Crosswhite tells us they received a call for a building fire at 3132 16th Street, NW. It took less than one minute for the first unit to arrive on the scene. There was heavy fire conditions coming from the 5th floor of the building. The hallway area was engulfed in flames, making it difficult for residents to escape. So far, eight patients have been transported and 40 others are being evaluated. He says there were people hanging from windows trying to escape the building.

At this time, there are two critical injures, one of them is believed to have jumped from the building. Officials are still gathering information from witnesses. The investigation is ongoing.

UPDATE 4:53 a.m.: Eight people have been transported to the hospital. A couple dozen are now being evaluated and may also be transported. ABC 7 News has learned some residents were asked to remain inside the apartment building for safety reasons as the fire was blocking stairway access.

ORIGINAL

D.C. Fire and EMS say at least seven people have been transported to the hospital, some with critical injuries, after a two-alarm fire at an apartment building in Northwest.

Flames broke out on the 5th floor of the building in the 3100 block of 16th Street early Wednesday morning. All seven adults have been transported to a local hospital. There's no word on the extent of their injuries.

Police have shut down 16th Street.

No further details were immediately available.

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