Mansion of DC Arts Patron Burns

Questions persist on hydrant's water pressure...

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From The Washington Post:

Fire gutted the Chain Bridge Road mansion and extensive art collection of longtime D.C. arts patron Peggy Cooper Cafritz late Wednesday, and officials said low water pressure slowed firefighters' efforts to contain the blaze.

It took almost two hours to find a sustained stream of water strong enough to fight the fire, D.C. fire chief Dennis L. Rubin said. A spokeswoman for the D.C. Water and Sewer Authority, however, said the problem stemmed from fire crews trying to use too many hydrants connected to one small water main, instead of other hydrants available in the neighborhood.

The dispute mirrors one that erupted in 2007, when broken fire hydrants hindered the response to a major blaze at the Georgetown library. That same year, the two agencies traded accusations over alleged water supply problems during a fire that destroyed parts of an Adams Morgan condominium building.

Wednesday night, as firefighters unfurled lengths of hose that eventually spanned blocks, flames roared through the mansion's windows and leapt through the roof.

The blaze devoured what Cafritz's nephew called a "museum-quality art collection" by African and African American artists, and destroyed a home that had been the site of countless political fundraisers, book parties and receptions, as well as a refuge for the struggling artists and young people Cafritz routinely took under her wing.

Read the rest of the article here.

From, a photo gallery of Peggy Cooper Cafritz home.

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