A pensioner has been found alive inside his fire-ravaged retirement home — five days after the building was evacuated.
The 74-year-old man was discovered in the Arthur Capper Senior Centre in Washington DC by emergency crews when they returned to assess the safety of the building, which housed more than 100 elderly people.
Washington DC’s mayor, Muriel Bowser, said the man was in good spirits despite being trapped inside his second-floor apartment in the assisted-living complex for days.
“It appears that, based on the report that I got from the building workers that he was sitting in his apartment,” Ms Bowser said in a press conference.
Investigators were alerted to his presence when he called out after hearing them outside.
After they prised open the door, which had swelled in the heat, they found him sitting calmly on the sofa.
He was taken to hospital with injuries that were not life-threatening.
One rescuer told Sky News: “He wanted to walk out, but we put him in a chair. For someone who has been in that situation for as long as he has, he seemed in incredibly good shape.”
The blaze started on 19 September, engulfing much of the care home and causing several parts of the roof and attic level to collapse.
Although rescue services had initially said all residents were accounted for, Washington fire chief Gregory Dean said fire crews who checked the building ”may have missed the apartment” during the evacuation.
Officials said firefighters completed a primary search of the building while the fire was still going on, but could not complete a secondary search because the building started collapsing.
Charles Allen, a Washington DC councilman, reacted to news of the man’s rescue in a statement on Twitter, saying he would be “demanding answers”.
He wrote: “For someone to be found inside the building five days after the fire, clearly there have been multiple failures to this point in either identifying and locating every resident or securing the building.”
An investigation is underway to determine how the man was missed by firefighters and officials are now rechecking other residents are accounted for.