Investigators Pin the Blame On Paint-Removing Heat Gun

By Allison Klein
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, May 4, 2007

A construction worker using a heat gun probably caused Monday's three-alarm fire at the Georgetown public library branch, Fire Chief Dennis L. Rubin said yesterday.

"We are 99 percent sure that's what happened," Rubin said.

The fire apparently began about noon, when the worker was using the heat gun to remove paint and other material from a window on the second floor of the 72-year-old Georgian-style mansion, officials said.

Investigators believe that construction workers tried without success to extinguish the flames, said Alan Etter, spokesman for the D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department. The fire burned for up to 15 minutes before a library worker noticed smoke and called 911.

City officials said it will cost as much as $20 million to rebuild the library, which was in the midst of a redesign and renovation. Rubin said tools such as heat guns can easily start fires. "By and large, any type of open-flame device always causes us great concern," he said.

The construction company, Washington-based Dynamic Corp., did not respond to several messages left at its offices yesterday afternoon.

The renovation includes the restoration of exterior doors and windows, stone masonry and ornamental railings and grates.

The blaze took place hours after a three-alarm fire at the historic Eastern Market in Capitol Hill. Authorities said faulty wiring probably caused that fire.

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