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.
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.