JOINT BASE ANACOSTIA-BOLLING, D.C. – An early morning fire Feb. 18 destroyed a pair a townhomes in Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling’s (JBAB) Bellevue Housing area, leaving one local firefighter slightly injured and five families displaced as a result of the wind-swept blaze.
The fire was reported at 8:52 a.m. on the south side of the base along Helm Court. More than 60 firefighters from Naval District Washington (NDW) and Washington Metropolitan Fire and Emergency Services converged on the scene, where units found a two-story townhome with heavy fire on both floors. The fire was so intense that flames extended to the second floor of a neighboring townhome, according to NDW Central Battalion Chief Kevin Grinder.
“Firefighters were met with heavy conditions in the back of the homes, so we made our entry through the front door,” Grinder said. “The fire was everywhere. It was in the attic, floors and walls.”
Because crews made an aggressive interior attack and were able to overcome the high wind conditions outside, firefighters were able to quickly stop the fire and limit its damage to the initial townhome and its neighboring unit – saving the other three townhomes that are part of that row, Grinder said.
As it turns out, firefighters weren’t the only ones that sprung into action that day. A six-year old boy named Chase, who lives with his family at the south end of the five-home complex, smelled smoke and knew right away something was wrong.
“I woke up and smelled smoke. Then, all of a sudden, something was burning from outside,” he said. “I woke up everyone in the house. We had to get out of fast.”
Chase told his mother, Jamie, who immediately looked out her bedroom window and saw smoke billowing out of the other homes. She credits her son with getting everyone out safely and alerting the other neighbors.
The occupants of the townhomes destroyed by the fire escaped without injury and have been relocated to temporary lodging facilities on JBAB. They are joined by the three other families along that street whose homes were not damaged, but had their utilities shut off as a safety precaution.
The American Red Cross is assisting families and JBAB’s Military Family Support Center is serving as their primary point of contact and advocate. Voluntarily given donations of household or clothing items for the families may be taken to the MFSC in Bldg. 13 on Brookley Avenue. Questions regarding donations can be addressed by the MFSC at 202-767-0450.
(Joe Cirone contributed to this story)