No Pane, No Gain: New windows are finally starting to appear chez Brizill.
No Pane, No Gain: New windows are finally starting to appear chez Brizill. Credit: Darrow Montgomery

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The Columbia Heights house owned by D.C. watchdog/activists Dorothy Brizill and Gary Imhoff was badly damaged in a fire Friday night, which authorities told the Washington Post “wiped out” the home.

Brizill and Imhoff jointly publish DC Watch, an email newsletter that delves into the picayune details of District government and politics.

The two-alarm fire started shortly before 4:45 p.m., DCist reported. There was no immediate word on its cause. An interior wall eventually collapsed from the blaze, and a firefighter working the scene had to be treated for smoke inhalation. Brizill and Imhoff were, reportedly, not home when the fire started. NBC4’s Jackie Bensen reported that Brizill was later put into an ambulance, though.

City officials had been after Imhoff and Brizill about the condition of the house, on the 1300 block of Girard Street NW, for years. In 2002, the home was put on a D.C. list of abandoned and vacant properties, even though they still lived there. In 2007, the District tried to condemn it. At the time, then-Loose Lips columnist Mike DeBonis reported, it was in bad shape: “Glass is missing from several front windows. The front porch is rotting away. The slate roof is bare and sagging in places. Gutters and trim have rusted into the brick façade. The entire exterior seems not to have seen a paintbrush since Home Rule.” Brizill suggested that then-Mayor Adrian Fenty was trying to force her out of the home, which they bought in 1982.

By 2008, though, the couple had started repairing it to comply with city orders. Here’s how it looked then:

We at Washington City Paper hope things work out alright for Brizill and Imhoff, who have been invaluable, if sometimes persnickety, watchdogs of city government for decades.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery