At 4 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 2, a fire broke out on the first floor of a residence on the 3000 block of O Street NW, causing the death of an elderly woman who resided in the building. The cause of the fire has not been confirmed, but police speculate that it was started by the resident’s lit cigarette.

The fire was contained to the first floor of the three-story house, but damage is significant.

“The fire was pretty much contained to the first floor,” Pete Piringer, D.C. Fire Department spokesman, told [MyFOX DC]( “Pretty significant damage, however, heavy smoke throughout.”

Firefighters were called to the scene and the fire was extinguished quickly, but upon searching the house officials found that its only resident was dead on the first floor. She appeared to have been trapped inside during the fire.

The house was equipped with smoke detectors, but officials have not yet determined if they were working at the time of the fire.

The resident of the house on O Street was an aged widow who lived alone. The 911 call was placed by Carol Joynt, the woman’s neighbor. Joynt has since posted on her Web site, [](, her first-hand account of the fire and its aftermath. The post was removed at the request of a friend of the victim’s family.

“It was mid-afternoon when I heard people outside shout `fire, fire’ in strident voices that indicated something deadly serious. I ran outside and looked across the street. A dark plume of smoke roiled from this woman’s house. It got thicker and darker by the second … Someone kicked in the front door, but there was too much smoke to risk going in. Just above the roof I could see the first licks of flame within the black plume,” Joynt said in her original post.

Television crews, eight to 10 fire trucks, and neighborhood residents gathered outside the house during the fire.

Joynt said in her post that a representative of the Mayor Adrian Fenty’s office, commissioners from the neighborhood advisory board and the rector of the neighborhood Episcopal church were part of the crowd on O Street. Most of the people who gathered outside were not personally associated with the victim, but saw the smoke and commotion on the street.

Joynt stated in her post that the victim was agoraphobic, which means she was had an abnormal fear of crowds and public places.

“She rarely left her home and only then remained in a small perimeter. I never saw anyone else come or go from the house,” Joynt said in her post.

The victim allegedly had a high blood-alcohol content at the time of her death. Agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms are investigating the situation.

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