- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 18, 2019

Commuters along a busy route into the District were treated to a massive show of police, fire trucks and emergency equipment early Thursday morning, all dealing with a fire at a bus garage station on the 3300 block of New York Avenue in Northeast Washington.

Some 100 D.C. firefighters were met with heavy black smoke and low visibility as they responded to the fire, blocking a heavily used access lane directly across the street from the National Arboretum. One firefighter received minor injuries and was transported to the hospital, officials at the scene told The Washington Times.

Cars struggling through the morning commute into the city filled the three lanes just on the other side of the barrier separating New York Avenue NE from the access road.

Vito Maggiolo, public information officer for D.C. Fire and EMS, said investigators determined the cause of the fire was a malfunctioning battery on a double-decker Big Bus Tour Bus vehicle that was housed in the building.

“When we got here, they had very heavy black smoke pushing from the bay doors of this very large building,” Mr. Maggiolo said.



Because of the heavy smoke and lack of visibility, firefighters had to use a search rope when entering the building. A rope was tied on to the outside so the firefighters had a path to follow in and out of the building.

“At one point one firefighter became disoriented; was disconnected from his company and declared a ‘May Day,’ meaning he was in distress,” Mr. Maggiolo said.

Mr. Maggiolo said the firefighter eventually was able to find a different exit and safely made it out of the building.

The visibility was only one of the issues firefighters faced as they battled the fire.

“Another issue here is this building has what’s known as a bow truss roof,” Mr. Maggiolo said. “It’s a type of construction that is very prone to collapse very quickly. So firefighters had to be extremely cautious in ventilating the roof.”

Normally, the firefighters cut holes in the roof to allow smoke to lift from the building and make conditions better, but Mr. Maggiolo said they could not do that with the this type of roof.

Firefighters had to work off their ladders and open any vents they could reach.

Mr. Maggiolo said they called for two alarms for this fire which allowed firefighters who initially responded to rotate out because “they were exhausted.”

“Considering the weather conditions, the extreme heat before we even had to encounter a significant fire, they get a tremendous job in locating and extinguishing the fire,” Mr. Maggiolo said.

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