Customers of the Woodley Park Peoples Drug Store, which was damaged by a two-alarm fire Friday night, expressed surprise and disappointment yesterday when they were greeted by a guard at the front door who told them that the store was closed until further notice.
"One of the advantages of living in the city is having places to walk to, but this was the only drugstore in the area," said Steve Goldstein, who said he shopped at the store, at 2616 Connecticut Ave. NW near the Duke Ellington Memorial Bridge, about once a week.
Fire officials said it took 95 firefighters using 32 pieces of equipment more than an hour to extinguish the 10 p.m. blaze, which attracted large crowds and caused Connecticut Avenue to be closed for several blocks. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.
Officials said Firefighter Donald S. Marshall of Engine Co. 9 received bruises and contusions when he was struck by a vehicle while laying hose along the roadway during the fire. They said he was treated at the Washington Hospital Center and released in good condition.
A spokesman for the drugstore chain said prescription records were not damaged in the blaze and were moved to the Peoples store at 3327 Connecticut Ave. NW, seven blocks north at the intersection of Macomb Street NW.
"We are filling prescriptions for people and are even offering delivery services for them if necessary," said John P. Manton, executive vice president and chief operating officer for Peoples.
Fire damage was confined to the basement area of the store, he said, while the first-floor shopping and cafeteria areas received smoke and water damage. He said there was no estimate of when the store would reopen for business.
The store's 25 employes have been temporarily transferred to other outlets in the chain, which has about 135 stores in the Washington area, Manton said.
"We have high praise for the District fire department for their quick reaction in curtailing what might have been a real catastophe," he said.
Regular customers said they hoped it will not be long before the store is back in business.