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Firefighters battle flames, bitter cold, after space heater sparks house fire in Southeast DC

WUSA-TV Washington, D.C. logo WUSA-TV Washington, D.C. 1/21/2019 Susan Phillips

A house fire sparked by a space heater brought D.C. firefighters out in the bitter cold to battle flames and the elements in Southeast early Monday morning.

According to Vito Maggiolo, spokesman for DC Fire and EMS, crews were called to the 3400 block of Brothers Place for a report of a house fire around 3:00 a.m.  

When firefighters arrived they found heavy fire conditions in a 1 1/2 story wood frame single family home.  Crews entered the home and quickly rescued a woman.  Two other residents were able to escape the flames on their own.  All three were taken to a local hospital for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries, Maggiolo said.

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The extremely frigid temperatures didn't make the work easy for firefighters at the scene, who had to use road flares to thaw out frozen hose couplings. A special canteen unit staffed by volunteers provided hot refreshments for crews having to brave the cold.  DC DPW salt trucks were brought out to tree the sheets of ice formed by the water used to fight the flames, Maggiolo said.

According to Maggiolo, the investigation into the cause of the fire has already provided a culprit.  A space heater in use with an extension cord and a "pigtail", overloaded an electrical circuit, which sparked the flames.  Maggiolo emphasized portable heaters must be plugged directly into a wall outlet to prevent similar incidents.

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