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Fire at D.C. Eastern Market caused by electrical issues, report says

The 2007 fire that destroyed the District's historic Eastern Market was caused by electrical issues, according to a final report the D.C. Fire/EMS released Thursday.

An electrical cause was ruled out early on by federal investigators, but D.C. Fire Chief Dennis L. Rubin focused on electrical problems as the probable reason for the three-alarm blaze.

The 134-year-old market, known for its food, flowers and flea markets, sustained $20 million in damage and was closed for three years.

According to the report, Rubin directed investigators to take a deeper look at the fire in January 2009 after investigators could not determine a cause.

That administrative review included new evidence that investigators had not previously tested -- an exterior electrical circuit that supplied power to the trash compactor. A private investigations and consulting firm, SEA Limited, secured the circuit in anticipation of contractors who were rebuilding the historic market.

When D.C. fire investigators ran additional tests on the circuit, it emerged as the fire culprit. The fire occurred "as a result of an electrical faulting of the outside electrical circuit supplying the trash compactor," wrote report co-authors Bruce D. Faust, D.C. fire marshal, and G. Crawford Wiestling, a consulting fire investigator.

You can read more details from the report.


By Theola Labbé-DeBose  |  May 27, 2010; 4:00 PM ET
Categories:  Document Room , Fires & Fire Safety , Theola Labbé-DeBose  
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