(WJLA) - Fire and smoked engulfed the Avalon Apartments in a two-alarm fire on Monday at 4311 Bob Ct. It began on the third floor and extended to the attic.
Some residents of the apartment jumped from the second floor, and there were four with minor injuries. One was transported to the hospital, and fire crews also rescued several pets.
For passersby, the scene was terrifying:
"People were running around saying, 'get out, everybody get out of the building,'" described witness Lindsay Smith.
For others, the horrifying reality unfolded right before their eyes. College student Siddharth Gowda and his roommate couldn’t get out their front door – the smoke was too thick:
"I couldn't see anything, I couldn't breathe," he said.
They decided that the only way to live was to risk dying, so they busted out of the second story window – and jumped.
"II was really panicked," said Gowda. "I didn't know what to do. I just heard people saying 'you have to jump, you have to jump' and I just jumped. I wasn't thinking anything else."
Gowda and his friend survived with only a few scrapes, and no one was seriously injured – thanks to one man in particular.
"I just shot out the back door to try to go save who I could or see who needed to be saved," said Yassin Aloumouati.
Aloumouati rushed to the scene and used a ladder to rescue residents prior to firefighters arriving:
"From there I climbed over the balcony…in that burning apartment," he said.
Quick thinking, good fortune, and for some – providence – made all the difference.
There is reportedly damage to 12 units in total -- some from water damage. Units will not be livable.