A man died from smoke inhalation and his son is still hospitalized after a fire devastated their south Arlington home late Friday night.
Isidro Bonilla, 50, died either at George Washington University Hospital or on the way, Capt. Tom Polera, an assistant fire marshal said. As of Monday afternoon Bonilla’s seven-year-old son was in stable but critical condition in a Washington hospital.
The fire, which occurred at approximately 10:15 p.m. Friday night in the 1200 block of South Buchanan Street, was caused by accident, Polera said. Though a lighter was found in the upper floor of the house, where the fire started, fire officials have not confirmed it was the source of the blaze.
At the time of the fire, the child was by himself upstairs while Bonilla and his wife were on the ground floor. When they smelled smoke, Bonilla’s wife ran to a neighbor to call the fire department.
Bonilla went upstairs to check on his son, and the fire department found both individuals in a bathroom, Polera said.
The house, located in a quiet neighborhood near Wakefield High School, does not possess smoke detectors.
“This shows the importance of having working smoke alarms,” Polera said. “It would have changed the outcome of the fire.”
The other three children in the family were not home at the time of the fire. Four fire engines arrived on the scene within minutes of receiving the dispatch call, Polera said.
THE ARLINGTON BRANCH of the Red Cross sent volunteers and mental health professionals to the house Friday evening. Though the Red Cross offered to pay for a temporary hotel, the family is currently staying with relatives in the region, said Sohrab Rezvan, preparedness and response coordinator for the organization.
The neighborhood is in shock over the death of Bonilla, said Craig McKee who lives next door. He described the family as “quiet and well-behaved,” and said they have lived in the house for 16 years.
“People on this street are very friendly,” McKee said. “They come to each other’s aid.”
This is the first fatality caused by a fire in the county since April 2003, Polera said. In 2005 the fire marshal’s office investigated more than 100 “non-mobile” fires in the county.
Polera urged all residents to inspect the fire alarms in their homes to ensure they work properly. Families without fire detectors can contact their local stations to receive free devices, or call 703-228-4659.