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Two D.C. firefighters were injured when the roof collapsed in a raging fire at 2627 Adams Mill Road, a condo building that was almost certainly destroyed this morning. Things could have gone worse, of course, since no residents were hurt or killed, but things could have decidedly gone better. But don’t worry, folks. Jim Graham is on it.
The councilmember, who lives around the corner at the Ontario, got the call around 2:30 a.m., about an hour after D.C. Fire and EMS got it, and, per his usual, was at the scene shortly thereafter to assess things. By 10 a.m. he was ready to sum up: D.C. has crappy infrastructure. Well, to be fair, he did not say “crappy.” What he said to me this morning was “ancient,” but what he meant is crappy. To fight a four-alarm fire, you need a good amount of water pressure, something the 8- and 12-inch lines running under Adams Morgan can’t really provide. So firefighters were forced to line hose all the way from Connecticut Avenue, where hydrants are hooked into 20-inch lines, across Ellington Bridge, down the length of Calvert Street and around the corner to Adams Mill—some 2,000 feet of hose—which consequently closed all those well-traveled streets, as well as the intersection at 18th and Columbia.
While that was happening, flames powered through the red-tiled roof of the building, which has roughly 30 units, according to Graham. Residents of 2627 Adams Mill and those in the buildings on either side were evacuated; the Red Cross was called in. The two injured firefighters were hit by falling debris and possibly went though roof; at least one, says Graham, had to pass directly through the fire in order to get out. Another one had to climb down two strung-together ladders: The 45-foot one firefighters had on hand wasn’t long enough.
“A four-alarm fire is unusual,” Graham said, “but we have to be prepared for the unusual. This is a warning for us.” Next up: Graham vs. WASA.