Image: Home consumed by fire
Haraz N. Ghanbari  /  AP
The Washington, D.C., home consumed by fire Thursday and in which five people perished is seen after the blaze.
updated 1/1/2009 5:59:22 PM ET 2009-01-01T22:59:22

A fire broke out at a Washington home Thursday morning, killing a 5-year-old girl, her parents and two others, fire officials said.

A critically injured child was among four others hurt at the house, where Christmas lights remained on the front porch in the afternoon as crews removed charred debris, including a pink scooter and a toy truck.

An electrical failure between the basement and the first floor of the two-story home in the northeast part of the city is believed to have sparked the blaze, which broke out around 7 a.m., officials said.

The dead were identified as Keith Nelson, 23; Tawanna Gant, 22; their 5-year-old daughter, Kaniya Gant; Joseph Wilson, 10; and Charles Smith, 72. Authorities were not sure of the relationship between the boy, the older man and the other victims.

"I don't think it actually hit everybody yet," said Dionne West, a cousin of Tawanna Gant.

Gant "was a vibrant young lady. She really enjoyed life," West said.

Neighbor Mary Meeks said she awoke to see flames shooting out the windows of the home's basement. She ran from her home across the street and started banging and kicking on the front door, and her daughter called 911.

"I didn't hear any movement," Meeks said. "That's why I was banging on the door, but I still didn't hear anybody."

District of Columbia Mayor Adrian Fenty and two D.C. Council members visited the scene Thursday afternoon.

Along with the critically injured child, whose age was not given, a man, a woman and a 15-year-old boy were hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries, officials said.

About 120 firefighters put out the blaze.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Discussion comments


Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments