WASHINGTON (WJLA) - Just after 2 a.m. on Christmas Day, firefighters responded to the 3600 block of Connecticut Avenue for a report of a fire in a third floor apartment.
"We heard somebody knocking, beating on the door," she described. "I opened the door and the whole hallway was filled with smoke," says Amy Alvear.
She quickly realized that the fire was inside her neighbor’s apartment, the unit right across the hall from her. The neighbor just happened to be her good friend and 55-year-old cousin, Elsa Zambrano.
Alvear says her cousin fell asleep with food on the stove inside of unit 301. Luckily, she had a spare key and tried to make her way inside to pull Zambrano to safety before firefighters arrived.
But a wall of choking black smoke immediately forced her and her husband back.
"You couldn't even see the floor," Alvear said. "We couldn't get in. We just grabbed our dogs and left."
Firefighters arrived on the scene and were able to quickly put out the fire. Elsa Zambrano was found alive, but is currently in serious condition at Shock Trauma.