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Three young children were hospitalized early Wednesday in critical but stable condition after being trapped in their Southeast Washington condominium during a kitchen fire, authorities said.

Details were sketchy, but officials and witnesses said the youngsters — an infant girl, a 2-year-old girl and a 5-year-old boy — were left alone in the apartment after their father went to work.

A fire official involved in the investigation said the father asked a neighbor to check on the children while he was gone. When she tried to do so, she found smoke seeping under the front door into the hallway and the doorknob too hot to touch, said the investigator, who declined to be named because the investigation was ongoing.

Another neighbor called 911.

Firefighters arrived at Pannell House, in the 1900 block of Naylor Road SE, just after 6 a.m., D.C. fire department spokesman Pete Piringer said. They entered the second-floor unit and found the children unconscious in a back bedroom.

Paramedics performed CPR on at least two of the children and were able to restore their pulses, officials said. All three were taken to Children’s National Medical Center, where they were reportedly in critical but stable condition. Their names were not released.

The infant girl is about five or six months old, Piringer said.

It was not clear Wednesday morning whether the children’s mother lives with them or where she was during the blaze. The father, who neighbors said works for the Veteran’s Administration, was contacted and went to the hospital to be with the children.

The blaze originated in the kitchen and damaged much of the condominium unit, but did not affect other apartments in the 36-unit building. The children suffered severe smoke inhalation, Piringer said.


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