August 16, 2022

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Two recent fires engulfed parked cars in the District, and investigators believe piled up leaves...

Two recent fires engulfed parked cars in the District, and investigators believe piled up leaves played a role in at least one fire.

Three cars were destroyed by fire Tuesday evening near Washington Circle just off New Hampshire Avenue in Northwest.

Early Wednesday morning, a fire in the Capitol Hill neighborhood destroyed two more cars.

D.C.’s fire chief said both fires are under investigation.

“The cause on the New Hampshire Avenue one is probably related to the leaves,” D.C. Fire and EMS Chief John Donnelly Sr. said. “The other ones we’re still investigating to figure out.”

Residents of Southeast where the other cars burned are worried the fires may have been set intentionally, and they believe piled up leaves played a role there as well

“Our investigators are looking at that, and since it’s an investigation I think that’s the best way for us to look at that,” Donnelly said.

Residents told News4 the District has been slow in clearing the piles of leaves from their streets, leaving cars with little option but to park over piles of dried leaves.

“The advice is you should never park on anything combustible,” Donnelly said. “You shouldn’t park in a pile of leaves. The leaves should be in the tree box when you rake them. The city’s aggressively coming out and picking them up, but you really shouldn’t park on a pile of leaves or a pile of trash or anything else. It should be clear under your car. Catalytic converters can reach up to 1,200 degrees.”

A spokesperson for the D.C. Department of Public Works said the District is about 10 days behind schedule for leaf pickup. They hope to have the first collection for all neighborhoods completed by Dec. 20.

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