- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 28, 2007

A fire in a Southeast duplex early yesterday killed a 5-year-old girl and injured four others, fire officials said, adding that the response was complicated when emergency workers initially were sent to the wrong address.

The fire broke out in a two-story duplex at 3449 Minnesota Ave. SE shortly before 3 a.m. Asia Sutton, 5, was found dead in an upstairs bedroom, said fire department spokesman Alan Etter.

“You never, ever get used to this kind of thing,” he said.

Mr. Etter said Asia’s mother, who was not identified but is 37 years old, jumped from a second-floor window. The girl’s 29-year-old father, who also was not identified, escaped through a first-floor window. The two were hospitalized with second-degree burns and smoke inhalation.

The girl’s 18-year-old sister jumped from a second-floor window, and her 19-year-old brother escaped through a first-floor window. The two were taken to area hospitals, but they were not thought to be seriously injured, Mr. Etter said.

Mr. Etter said the fire was determined to be an accidental “electrical event” that may have involved an extension cord.

He said it was not immediately clear whether the house had smoke detectors.

Carrie Brooks, a spokeswoman for Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, said the first call was made at 2:52 a.m. She said she listened to a tape of the call and that the caller can clearly be heard telling the dispatcher the fire occurred at 3449 B St. SE, about one-third of a mile from its actual location at 3449 Minnesota Ave. SE.

“Preliminarily, that was the first call, and it was the wrong address,” she said.

Miss Brooks said the dispatcher sent the units within 20 seconds and that they arrived at the B Street location exactly four minutes after call takers answered the first 911 call. When the fire crews found nothing, they alerted communications.

However, additional crews responding to the initial address spotted the fire and diverted to the scene of the fire on Minnesota Avenue SE.

A minute and nine seconds after the crews arrived at the wrong address, at 2:57 a.m., dispatchers corrected the address and the first arriving fire crews reported being on the scene within seconds.

The response time to the fire scene was 4 minutes, 19 seconds, a delay of 1 minute, 15 seconds from the time firefighters responded to the incorrect address.

Miss Brooks said officials with the Office of Unified Communications are conducting a “top-to-bottom review” of the call. Officials are pulling all the calls that call takers received within a half-hour before and after the fire to see how many other callers reported the fire, if they reported the correct location and if the calls were handled properly.

Miss Brooks described the death as a “tragic situation” and said Mr. Fenty visited Asia’s parents at the hospital yesterday to extend his condolences.

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