City Desk

Two-Alarm Fire on Quebec Place, NW

At 8:05 this morning, more than 120 firefighters descended on 1034 Quebec Place, NW, where a massive blaze had consumed most of the house, inflicted extensive damage to the homes on either side, and charred a corpse on the second floor beyond recognition.

"Our firefighters arrived to find heavy fire conditions throughout the home," D.C. Fire Spokesman Alan Etter said. "It looks like it started on the first floor and then spread to the second floor and the roof."

Firefighters discovered the body of an adult in an enclosed porch area on the second floor in the rear of the home.

"Obviously deceased, with severe head injuries," Etter said. "We don't have any idea who the person was, even whether it was male or female."

Etter said the medical examiner would determine whether the corpse was a fatality of the fire or was dead when the fire began. No word yet on whether there was a human hand behind the blaze.

The fire department also unearthed a dog trapped in a cage on the first floor.

"The dog was located under a bunch of debris," Etter said. "It had serious burns but was rescued and turned over to animal control."

Nobody else was found in the house.

On entering the house, firefighters noticed "a ton of debris" inside the home:

"We call it 'pack rat syndrome,'" Etter said. "There were packs of clothing, magazines, all kinds of debris inside the home. It's a situation where there's more fuel for the fire to burn, and it also makes it difficult to get out if you're trapped. And it's certainly more dangerous for the firefighters if they're looking for you.

One firefighter was hospitalized for high blood pressure after working in the house. He sustained no physical injuries and is not in critical condition.

"We're back in the neighborhood right now going door to door," Etter said. "It's a program called 'Return to the Scene.' Whenever there's a death or a serious fire, we go back to the neighborhood and put our focus on fire prevention."

The Fire Department reports that the house in question had no working smoke alarms. Any household in the district can get a free alarm by calling 202-673-3331.

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