WASHINGTON (AP) — Four people were found dead after firefighters entered a home in an upscale Washington neighborhood Thursday to battle a blaze the police chief is calling suspicious.
The fire was reported about 1:30 p.m. in a neighborhood of multi-million-dollar homes in the northwest section of the District. Assistant Fire Chief Craig Baker said at a news conference that it took firefighters about 30 minutes to bring the blaze under control.
Neighbor Joe Carregal said he was walking his dog when he smelled smoke and went to check out what was happening down the block from where he lives.
“It was all smoke and then boom, it went to fire, coming from the second floor,” he said. A man started knocking on the door but no one answered, Carregal said. Firefighters arrived shortly after and had to break down the door. They used two ladder trucks to get to the roof.
Within about 15 minutes, “we saw three people come out on stretchers,” Carregal said, adding that medics were performing CPR, trying to revive the three.
The house, a large, brick structure, is in an affluent, tree-lined neighborhood near the Washington National Cathedral. A facility for the Embassy of Belgium is nearby.
District property records list the house’s assessed value at $4.58 million. The house is not occupied by the owner.
Mayor Muriel Bowser said the dead were three adults and a child. None has been identified yet, police said.
The police department is investigating the fire, Chief Cathy Lanier said. There were no obvious signs of forced entry to the home, she said, but added that it is very early in the evidence-gathering stage.
A spokesman for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said the agency is assisting in investigating the cause and origin of the fire.
Lanier said a 2008 blue Porsche with Washington tags DK2418 was seen at the home about 10:30 a.m. Thursday. It was found later, Lanier said, but nobody was with it. Police are asking that anyone who saw that car to contact them.
Investigators will be canvassing the neighborhood Thursday night to reassure residents and gather information, the chief said.
Reporters Kasey Jones contributed to this story from Baltimore and Matt Barakat contributed from McLean, Virginia.