Another Wild Car Crash in Lanier Heights – This One into a Building


“Dear PoPville,

This morning at about 8:30 AM, a driver crashed into my building, at the corner of Quarry and Summit. (the same street where a car went down the small staircase a week or two ago). There was no damage to the house, but the car hit our gas meter, causing gas to leak out all through the building and outside. The fire department and police came, and everyone in the three apartments evacuated or was at work. The driver is fine too, and was there with us talking to the police. They are still clearing everything up now, and Washington Gas is shutting off the gas.


For reasons I don’t understand, the fire department decided to break in the doors of all three apartments to get in, to check for people inside, even though one apartment’s residents were all at work, and I and the residents of another apartment were standing outside, watching, and we knew no one was left inside. We just didn’t notice the firemen breaking in until late. There is doorframe and siding damage, and one apartment’s door was broken even though it was unlocked. We’re talking with the landlord about the damage, and I imagine there has to be way to get insurance compensation/ to file a complaint from the fire department. Has anyone else had a similar experience with the fire department?”

Ed. Note: I imagine the Fire Department has to err on the side of caution in cases like this.

20 Comment

  • I know that place. I actually showed up for a Craigslist open house, and then a day later they called to tell me a car hit their place so they didn’t know how long it would be out of commission. I always thought that was a white lie…I guess not.

  • Sorry about your door, but in good news you now know how easy it is to force it open and that it might not be as secure as you thought it was. Perhaps when you’re replacing the door and frame you can get the landlord to spring for solid-core or metal doors and framing and sturdier locking mechanisms.
    And I agree with the editors note – sometimes the fire department has to err on the side of caution in this type of a situation.

  • Also, (I’m anonymous above), I was told by the occupants that building used to be a whore house back on the day. Could someone confirm or deny?

    • I think in many neighborhoods it’s pretty safe to assume that your house has been used as a crack and/or whore house at some point.

  • Fireman like to break stuff.

  • You’re upset with the fire department? Not the guy who crashed the car into your house? Just make sure your insurance company gets a copy of the police report so they can go after the insurer of the car.

    I don’t think the fire department owes you anything for risking their lives to make sure you or anyone else didn’t die in an explosion.

    • Hi, I’m the original poster. Those are my photos. Yes we were definitely more upset with the car and the gas leak than the doors. We’re definitely glad that everyone is ok and the gas was contained and shut off. the thing with the doors was frustrating because I could have just given the FD my key. I was watching them and they didn’t consult before they broke the door open. With one other apartment, they broke the door open, even though the occupants (also watching) left it unlocked, and the FD could have just turned the knob.

  • Is this an apartment building owned by a single owner? If so, then at least the time/expense of getting the doors fixed is the landlord’s problem, not the OP’s problem.
    I agree that it kind of sucks, and it would have been nice if the firefighters had checked to see if any bystanders were the occupants… but they really have to err on the side of caution. What if you thought a neighbor was at work, but that person was actually at home sick and they didn’t check?

    • He said that one of the occupants had left the door unlocked. I understand the firefighters wanting to err on the side of caution, but it couldn’t have taken more than a few seconds to check and see if the door was unlocked.

  • Assuming the gas leak has been fixed, huge thanks to whomever called 911 and to the fire department for responding. Bummer about the door, but as a very nearby resident, I am grateful this didn’t turn into a giant fireball-type of situation.

    I love this quirky house, but I wonder if the gas meter could be a little less exposed? The photo doesn’t show how close it is to the building, but that’s a fairly tight corner with people backing into those parking spaces all the time. Hate to think how easily this could’ve ended much, much worse.

  • PDleftMtP

    True story – somebody stopped me on the street (Kenyon near Adams Mill) over the weekend and asked if I knew where the stairs where the accident happened were…yep, it was the guy who went down the stairs and his family, trying to find the scene of the crash again. (And yep, Maryland tags on the minivan.)

  • I think trying the knob before you break down a door is good standard operating procedure. Should only take a few seconds.

    Heck, why not try knocking and waiting a few seconds if there are only a few occupants at risk? I could see if they have to go through 10+ units, but if it’s less than five, they’ve got a bit of time, no?

  • I’ve heard lots of stories of DCFD being way too destructive and generally over-reacting. When called for a small, stovetop blaze, their MO is often to smash apart the entry door, windows, and kitchen walls with axes — the flood the dwelling with water — when a simple fire extinguisher would do.

  • How does someone crash on that small section of street?! Its not like there is room to speed there.

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