D.C. Water and Sewer Authority Chairman on the Cafritz Fire

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Sept. 4 Metro article "D.C. Environmental Chief to Lead WASA" stated that the Washington Water and Sewer Authority (WASA) "suffered another setback" when fire tore through Peggy Cooper Cafritz's mansion July 29 "and a preliminary review by the city found that an aging water pipe dramatically slowed efforts to fight the fire."

But the Mayor's Chain Bridge Fire Preliminary Review concluded, "While low water flow unquestionably impacted the time needed to put out the fire, it is debatable how much of the house's structure and contents could have been saved had water flow been more significant. . . ."

Nowhere in the preliminary findings, to which the reporter referred, was there a conclusion that "an aging water pipe dramatically slowed efforts to fight the fire." Rather, the report identified several factors contributing to the devastating impact of the fire, including the extent of the fire when firefighters arrived and the unique geography of the area.

Suggesting, as the article did, that the ability to fight the Cafritz fire was significantly hampered by the District water system alone is a misrepresentation of the findings in the report. The Cafritz family and residents of the area are best served by a factual accounting of all the factors and conditions that contributed to the unfortunate loss of the Cafritz home.


Chairman, Board of Directors

District of Columbia

Water and Sewer Authority


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