UPDATE: The early video of the fire taken by a neighbor has been removed from YouTube. News video has been added.
Note: As a reporter I had many conversations with Dorothy Brizill and was the recipient of a lot of good information that she uncovered about the DC government, including its fire department. My thoughts are with Dorothy and her husband Gary Imhoff through this difficult time.
On this page are three video clips of the early stages of the fire at 1337 Girard Street in Northwest Washington, DC posted to YouTube by jrowedc.
The home of D.C. activist Dorothy Brizill and her husband burned down Friday afternoon.
The Columbia Heights home was destroyed around 4:30 p.m. in a fire in the 1300 block of Girard Street. Nobody was home at the time.
Firefighters are still dealing with a gas leak.
One firefighter received minor burns to his legs, and was transported to an area hospital.
Brizill and her husband, Gary Imhoff, founded D.C. Watch, a D.C. government watchdog group.
The fire was first reported about 4:45 p.m. Over 80 firefighters, two engines and one truck were dispatched to combat the two-alarm blaze, according to D.C. Fire and EMS. Only one injury has been reported—a firefighter who suffered from smoke inhalation.
Though we’re still awaiting details on the cause of the fire, the house has been a target of neighborhood curiosity and complaints. The house—built in 1870—came under the watchful eye of the D.C. Board for the Condemnation of Insanitary Buildings in 2007, according to a 2008 City Paper article. In 2002, the structure was put on the list of vacant and abandoned properties. There’s nothing yet indicating that today’s fire and any past problems are related.
Brizill and Imhoff, under the name D.C. Watch, have been deeply engaged as local government watchdogs for more than two decades. Notably, Brizill in 2002 raised questions about ballot petitions submitted by former Mayor Anthony A. Williams, which led the Board of Elections and Ethics to strike his name from the Democratic primary ballot. Williams ended up winning as a write-in candidate. More recently, Brizill raised concerns about the voting record of a top aide to Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D), leading to her resignation.
Their home, built in 1870, has garnered the attention of city authorities in the past decade for its sometimes dilapidated condition.
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