D.C. firefighters quickly doused a blaze at the vacant Willard Hotel on 14th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW last night, apparently caused by an electrical short in a window panel.
Almost 50 firefighters with eight pumpers and two ladder trucks were at the scene of the fire, which started at 10:02 p.m. There were no injuries.
D.C. Fire Marshal Murdo MacCleay said the fire, in a first-floor window frame of the hotel, was put out in less than five minutes. He said the only problem in fighting the fire was getting into the building, which has been boarded up for renovation.
MacCleay said the fire apparently was caused by a short in decorative colored lights on the window frame.
"It looks like a transformer [for the lights] shorted and burned," he said. The fire is under investigation, though MacCleay said there was no indication of arson.
Federal planners say the Willard should reopen by 1984, after a long-delayed rebirth, as a 350-room luxury hotel with shops and an adjoining new office building.
The hotel was the site of an historic February 1861 meeting between representatives of northern and southern states that tried to prevent civil war.