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Senior housing building in SE DC still not secure after fire

Ten seniors received minor injuries in the Sept. 19 fire at Arthur Capper Senior Public Housing building at 900 Fifth St. SE in D.C. (WTOP/Dick Uliano)

WASHINGTON — D.C. Fire and EMS crews are working over the weekend to secure the Arthur Capper Senior building, a Southeast D.C. senior housing complex that caught fire Wednesday, displacing around 160 people from their homes.

Damage to the 4-story building at 900 5th Street Southeast is so extensive, fire investigators have been unable to enter the building until it’s made safe to do so.

“We expect to see some perimeter work to stabilize the outside of the building,” said Mayor Muriel Bowser in a Friday news briefing at the site of the blaze.

The cause of the fire is still to be determined, as well as why the hallway fire alarms failed to sound.

The Arthur Capper Senior building is privately owned and operated. The rents of its low-income senior tenants are subsidized by the city.

“They don’t know the extent of the damage at this time, but I heard loud and clear that the intent was to rebuild the building,” Bowser said about owners of the facility.

Neighbors are raising funds to help the senior residents recover from their losses.

“There are a lot of folks that want to help,” said D.C. Council member Charles Allen.

The Capitol Hill Community Foundation is among the groups that is raising funds for the displaced seniors.

“It’s really been very heartwarming that so many people have come around to try to help make sure that every effort can be made to help our neighbors in their time of need,” Allen said.

Allen said every dollar raised by the foundation in the Capper Seniors Recovery Fund will go directly to the residents.


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