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House Fire Displaces Seven in Hyattsville

Firefighter injured fighting blaze in downtown boarding house.

A house fire has displaced seven people living in a boarding house in the heart of residential Hyattsville, and the tenants are blaming one of their roommates for the blaze. 

The fire began around 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday. The fire took place in a brick two-story house on the 4000 block of Madison Street, near the intersection with 40th Place. 

Fire fighters responding to the scene saw heavy flames coming from the first floor. Fire personnel began an aggressive attack and knocked the fire down within 15 minutes, according to Mark Brady, chief spokesperson for the Prince George's County Fire Department. 

One firefighter suffered a burn to his leg. He was treated and released from an area burn ward. No residents were harmed. 

The fire started in a bedroom on the first floor belonging to one of the tenants. Three of the roommates knew the tenant only by the name Emmanuel, and said that he was reclusive and largely kept to himself. They also said that he was known to be reckless with fire.

ABC 7 reports that the man is named Daniel Mitchell. 

The fire caused an estimated $50,000 in damages. 

The house is owned by Dr. Nainan Thomas, a psychologist. Tenants in the house said that Thomas would sometimes rent the house out to his patients. Tenants in the house also said they have warned the landlord in the past about their roommate playing with fire. 

"One time, we physically came downstairs and had to put a fire out on the stove that he started," said Terrance Mitchell, a two year resident of the house, no relation to Daniel Mitchell, in an interview. "How the [expletive] do you warm up a pizza on a box?"

"I said 'Doc, can you check this boy out?'," said Mike Jasper, a seven year resident of the house. "I know he heard my voice, because I kept telling him this boy is going to start a fire."

Thomas, who also did not know Daniel's last name off hand, said that he was unaware of specific concerns raised by tenants about their roommate. 

"Not really, no," said Thomas, when asked if his tenants have voiced concerns about Daniel. "In general, yes, but not anything specific."

Thomas said that he will refund prorated rent to the tenants, many of whom live on a fixed income.

The cause of the fire has not yet been determined, according to Brady, and investigators are continuing to review the case. Brady also said that an investigation concerning the use of the house as a boarding home is also underway. 

John Essex June 14, 2012 at 04:16 PM
7 unrelated people in a 1300 square foot home that is zoned residential??? Didn't the neighbors ever care enough to report this? I certainly would. Meanwhile, Mr. Thomas lives on Cypress Hill Drive in Gaithersburg in a 6000 square foot home worth nearly one million dollars. Plenty of room there for these residents!
Bea June 18, 2012 at 04:25 PM
As a neighbir who moved nearby about 10 years ago, I did question it and did my researched and it turned up that the home was listed as part of the Oxford House, which had several homes in the the DC area that housed those in recovery. If it changed hands and went to some Doctor , then I was unaware of that. Some of the same people that was there when I moved , were still there at the time of the fire or at least they hung around there often enough for me to assume that they lived there still. And they were peaceful folks, didn't bother us any except during football season they would get a little rowdy but no different than any of us on any given celebrated day in our own homes.
Joanne Young June 19, 2012 at 04:11 PM
We lived immediately next to this house. The people who lived there were very nice to us. They had a lot of complaints about Dr. Thomas, including concerns about Daniel Mitchell.

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