Fire in Empire Apartments forces evacuation early Sunday morning

A fire forced the evacuation of The Empire Apartments building at 2000 F St. early Sunday morning.

Firefighters on scene said they responded to a kitchen fire in room 710 that filled the room with smoke. Residents who were stranded outside the building said smoke began billowing out of an apartment window.

Some residents of the building, which includes GW students, said that they could smell smoke around 2:20 a.m. before the alarm went off.

“I woke up because I could smell the smoke. It wasn’t too smoky, but it was there,” said Dana Gilbertsen, a graduate student who lives on the eighth floor.

Empire Apartments houses hundreds of residents, several of whom were waiting along the sidewalk near the apartment building in Halloween costumes.

Two ladder fire trucks arrived at the building, and firefighters sprayed water from the ladder into the seventh floor apartment. Firefighters said they climbed the staircase and extinguished the fire within five minutes.

“It was blazing,” said Dana Archey, a firefighter with Engine 23. “It was small and we put it out.”

Omar Amach, a resident living in apartment 705, said he smelled smoke but never saw any flames.

“The fire alarm was struggling to go off. It was not very loud,” Amach said. “People seemed to be going down the stairs fairly orderly and there wasn’t any visible smoke in the hallway.”

By 2:50 a.m., fire trucks began leaving the scene and firefighters said they were cleaning up, investigating the incident and writing up a report.

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