- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 20, 2002

An off-duty D.C. firefighter saved a woman and two children Monday morning after a fire filled their Northwest apartment building with smoke.
Michael Poles was on his way home after a 24-hour shift at 7:45 a.m. when he saw smoke and fire coming from the fifth floor of an apartment building in the 3500 block of 13th Street NW, fire officials said. He stopped, saw a crowd of more than a dozen persons outside, then ran up five flights to make sure no one was trapped inside.
Firefighter Poles, who has worked on 13th Street for more than a year, found a mother and her two daughters two doors down from the burning apartment, afraid to come out because of thick smoke in the hallway.
"I knocked on the door and let them know I was going to help them," Firefighter Poles said. After coaxing them out, he had the three cling onto his arm and he led them to safety as firefighters rushed in to contain the blaze.
"I just did what any firefigher would do," he said. It was the first time Firefighter Poles, 38, has saved a life. The three hardly had time to thank him as he quickly left to rest up for his other job riding ambulances that evening.
The fire ignited when a 10-year-old boy began playing with matches. He, his 3-year-old sister and their parents escaped unharmed. A 74-year-old man and a 59-year-old woman in neighboring apartments were transported to Washington Hospital Center for observation. No one was seriously injured.
D.C. fire department spokesman Alan Etter called the fire "serious," saying it caused an estimated $25,000 in damage.
The only residents displaced were the four who lived in the apartment where the blaze began.
The 10-year-old youth will undergo training in the D.C. fire department's "firestarter" program, a fire prevention program, Mr. Etter said.


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