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NATIONAL HARBOR

Roofing Supplies Catch Fire Atop Condominium Project

Tar paper and roofing supplies caught fire atop this eight-story condominium under construction at National Harbor. Workers had left for the day, but a few returned when they saw smoke billowing from the building.
Tar paper and roofing supplies caught fire atop this eight-story condominium under construction at National Harbor. Workers had left for the day, but a few returned when they saw smoke billowing from the building. (By Richard A. Lipski -- The Washington Post)
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By Aaron C. Davis and Ovetta Wiggins
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, April 25, 2008

A pile of tar paper and roofing supplies caught fire yesterday afternoon, causing a scare at National Harbor.

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The fire ignited atop an eight-story condominium under construction, sending a plume of black smoke billowing over the high-end development in Prince George's County and raising fears that workers were trapped on the high-rise.

More than 50 firefighters were called in because of reports that people were trapped. Firefighters extinguished the flames within 15 minutes and found no workers in danger, said Mark Brady, a spokesman for the county Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department.

"It looked worse than it was," Brady said. "They were never in any real danger."

Construction workers had left the building for the day when the fire began, Brady said, but two or three rushed back into it when they saw the smoke. Firefighters found them on the roof.

Brady said the 5:40 p.m. blaze was contained to a 12-square-foot area atop the 155 Potomac Passage high-rise. The blaze caused about $5,000 in damage and is under investigation, he said.

Brady credited Prince George's firefighters with reaching the scene within five minutes. The department was able to respond so quickly because it has three firefighters dedicated to the National Harbor development, along the Potomac River in Oxon Hill, he said.

The fire came a day before county officials are to gather for a ribbon cutting and gala for the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center, the cornerstone of the huge development. The hotel opened this month to a public relations nightmare: Some hotel guests contracted norovirus and others found mice in their rooms.


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