District Heights fire leaves dozens displaced

      (Photo: Brianne Carter/WJLA)

      Investigators are searching for the cause of a three-alarm fire in District Heights that left nearly 30 residents displaced.

      Flames ripped through the Rochell Hall Apartments building in the 1900 block of Rochell Avenue around 8 p.m. Tuesday.

      Fire officials say flames were coming from every floor, including the attic, when they arrived on the scene.{}About 75 firefighters responded to the scene. It took{}an hour to put out the fire.

      The fire affected 21 units and caused $500,000 worth of damage,{}forcing{}dozens of people to now look for a new place to live. Luckily, no residents were injured as they escaped the flames.

      Resident Shanaira Harley says she barely had time to get out.

      "I see smoke and I see fire on the other half of my building," she said.

      Harley was able to grab some clothes, but had to leave her "children" behind.

      "I watched my dogs burn, I just don't know they were my kids, my kids," she cried.

      Witnesses say the flames were shooting from the roof, causing the third floor to collapse.

      "I'm thankful, I hope everybody is OK," said Resident Linda Pearsall.

      Investigators say the fire started in a lower-level unit, but the cause is under investigation.

      The Office of Emergency Management and the Red Cross are assisting those displaced. A temporary shelter has been opened at the Central High School for displaced residents.