- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 25, 2003

A fire that killed a 78-year-old woman yesterday in Northeast was deliberately set, investigators said last night.
Fire department spokesman Alan Etter said investigators, with the help of a dog that can sniff out accelerants, determined that the fire at 615 Eighth St. NE was arson.
Mr. Etter said several people were being questioned last night, including relatives of the victim, identified at Frances Sanders.
Three other persons, including a firefighter, were injured.
Three row houses were damaged in the mid-afternoon fire.
"There was so much damage in there, I couldn't tell where it started," Mr. Etter said.
Mr. Etter said the injured firefighter was taken to a hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation and heat exhaustion. His injuries did not appear to be serious, Mr. Etter said.
Also injured was an off-duty emergency medical technician who was on his way to pick up his daughter when he saw the burning building. He attempted to go in and rescue anyone who might be inside. He was treated on the scene for burns on his hands.
A 48-year-old woman was treated at George Washington University Hospital for smoke inhalation. She said she was in the house when the fire started, but she was outside when firetrucks arrived, Mr. Etter said.
Family members of the deceased stood on the corner, mourning the woman's death.
Neighbor Jackie Baxter said smoke began coming up through her floor about 3 p.m. She ran outside to the end of the block and called her husband. When she went outdoors, two firetrucks were at the scene. "When I came out, there were already flames coming out the window," Ms. Baxter said.
Mr. Etter said police and firefighters weren't able to enter the home until the blaze was under control. Firefighters found the woman dead on the second floor.
Ms. Baxter said the daughter of the deceased woman screamed after finding out what happened. "It's devastating," she said. "They seemed to be a very close-knit family."
The fire was the second two-alarm incident firefighters responded to yesterday. At Anacostia High School in Southeast investigators questioned three teenage girls in what they determined to be a deliberately set fire.
The school was fined $2,000 because two exit doors were padlocked. Firefighters had to cut bolts on the two doors to get to burning gym mats in the building at 1601 16th St. SE yesterday morning.
"These things have been brought to their attention before," Mr. Etter said, adding that the school has been quick to fix any problems for which the department has cited it.
One firefighter was hospitalized with second-degree burns to the right side of his face after the blaze, he said.
Students had to leave the building for about an hour but were allowed inside shortly after noon.


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