Updated at 4:57 a.m.
Updated at 11:45 a.m. with information from Deputy Fire Chief Kenneth Crosswhite.
Update at 1:52 p.m.: Georgetown Senior Vice President Spiros Dimolitsas wrote in an e-mail to the student body that the two workers who were burned are in stable condition. Two DPS officers also suffered from smoke inhalation, he said, and were treated and released early this morning. The equipment that started the fire was a floor stripper.
A fire broke out early Thursday morning in 221 New North when two maintenance workers contracted by Georgetown University were working with chemicals. Their cleaning tools overheated the chemicals and started the fire, according to D.C. Fire Department personnel. The Fire Department responded to the fire—which, according to Sergeant Nate Blackmon, was contained to the one room—after the fire had already been contained by the sprinkler system, Deputy Fire Chief Gerhart said.
Blackmon told Voice reporters that the two victims were transported to the Georgetown University Hospital for burns to their arms and faces. Deputy Fire Chief Kenneth Crosswhite said that they were in critical condition when they arrived at the MedStar Burn Center.
Crosswhite said that the first call came in about the fire at 2:43 a.m. At least a dozen fire trucks, ambulances, and other emergency vehicles initially responded to the scene.
“The sprinkler system kept the fire in check, but Engine Five extinguished the remaining fire. They just came in to put out what—if any—remaining fire was left,” Crosswhite said.
The cause of the fire was not known until hours after the fire. Shortly after the fire was contained, Gerhart told a Voice reporter, “Basically, we’re waiting to find out from the victims what they know about the causes of the fire.”
Voice reporters who accessed the building said there was flooding on the first and second floors and water and plaster are falling from the ceiling of the first floor. The office where the fire started belongs to Professor James Mattingly. The second floor of New North mostly houses the Philosophy Department.
Alex George and Brandon Butterworth, both Georgetown students, said that they saw a man being taken out on a stretcher around 2:55 a.m., clutching his arm.
Chris Heller and Kara Brandeisky contributed reporting. Photos by Keaton Bedell, Chris Heller, and Eric Pilch.
Based on information from several Fire Department respondents at the scene, we incorrectly reported that the call for the fire came in at 2:10 a.m. The call was made at 2:43 a.m.