Lawsuit reveals Fire Department bungled the investigation of the Georgetown Public Library blaze

In 2007, a blaze broke out at the Georgetown Public Library, destroying large portions of the building and leaving the neighborhood without a permanent library for years.  Soon after the fire, the city sued the contractor that had been doing repairs to the library at the time for $13 million, alleging that the heating guns used started the fire.

Unfortunately for D.C., the contractor is contesting that claim, and the lawsuit has revealed that D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services did a less than stellar job investigating the fire.  Washington City Paper‘s Jason Cherkis unearthed court documents and e-mails between the FEMS and the Office of the Attorney General that show the full extent of the investigators’ negligence.

Cherkis’s post is a must-read, but here are a few of the major allegations:

  • Lt. Craig Duck led the investigation despite having no training in fire investigation.
  • Duck thoroughly bungled the investigation, throwing away crucial evidence.  The evidence he did hold on to was not properly secured or catalogued.
  • Investigators may have breached national standards by not making and keeping notes while investigating.
  • FEMS was extremely uncooperative when OAG asked them for the requisite documentation from the investigation, failing to hand over investigators’ notes and photographs.

Photo from Flickr user randomduck, used under a Creative Commons license.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>