Capitol Lounge Gutted By Fire
Popular Capitol Hill hangout Capitol Lounge was devistated by a fire early this morning. A jogger called 911 to report smoke coming from the windows of the bar, located at 231 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, around 6 a.m., and all residents who live on the upper floors of the building were evacuated safely. The bar's interior, filled with political memorabilia (Nixon signs, Kennedy campaign badges, a Marion Barry poster) is completely gutted.
Initial media reports have suggested that a improperly extinguished cigarette was the source of the fire, but longtime Capitol Lounge bartender and manager Tony Tomelden said he suspects "faulty wiring" was responsible for the blaze. "It seems from what firemen and the cops are telling me, it started in the back, and there's no reason anyone would have been smoking back there," he said.
D.C. Fire and EMS spokeswoman Catherine Friedman said, "Investigators have indicated they don't believe it's suspicious, but beyond that, I don't have anything concrete."
Cheap happy hour food and drink specials (those 25-cent tacos frequently hit the spot on Wednesday evenings), friendly bartenders and kitschy decor made the Lounge an after-work favorite of Hill staffers and interns. But it was also a favorite gathering place for soccer fans -- a collection of scarves representing foreign teams hung over the bar -- and alumni groups, who gathered to watch college football over pizzas and pitchers of beer.
It will be missed.
Update: Tomelden called back later this afternoon to say he'd spoken to more police officer and firefighters, and while some think the cause was electrical wiring, one fire inspector thinks the fire may have been started by a discarded cigarette.
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