The DC Fire and EMS was called to the blaze around noon, Vito Maggiolo, a public information officer with the department, told CBS News. It was in the basement of a two-story row house.
Four residents had already evacuated by the time first responders arrived and weren’t injured but the dogs were still inside, Maggiolo said.
“When we search a building we look for people who are trapped and we also look for animals that are trapped,” Maggiolo noted. “Animals are part of people’s families. They’re often very precious to them.”
After saving five dogs, a firefighter discovered a sixth, lying unconscious in the basement beneath a table, Maggiolo said. A member of the department’s rescue squad carried the dog out and worked with other firefighters to revive it.
Their efforts were captured on video and posted by the department on Twitter. In the footage, the first responders are seen attempting to give the dog oxygen and water to help cool it down.
The department tweeted early Tuesday afternoon that it was able to get the fire under control “despite intense heat of the day & clutter conditions inside.” No firefighters were injured, Maggiolo said.
“When we search for victims in a fire, obviously our first priority is human life, but we will do whatever we can to get those animals to safety,” Maggiolo said. “We’re prepared for these kinds of events.”
He said his understanding was that some of the dogs remained with their owners, but others were taken to a nearby animal rescue organization to be further evaluated by a veterinarian.
The department tweeted on Tuesday afternoon that investigators were at the scene of the fire to determine what caused it. It weeted that smoke alarms were “present but inoperable” in the house.
“If this blaze took place at night, the results could have been tragic,” the department warned. “Fire burns fast, and WORKING smoke alarms give you those precious seconds to safely escape a burning home.”