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City sues over library fire
The District of Columbia is seeking $13 million in damages from the contractor whothe District claims is responsible for the blaze that ravaged the historic Georgetown Neighborhood Branch Library last April.
According to a press release issued on August 22 from the Office of the Attorney General in D.C., an inspection conducted by the Fire/Arson Investigation Unit and other agencies determined that the heating guns used on the library’s exterior were responsible for igniting the fire.
Dynamic Corporation of Hyattsville, Maryland, was contracted in February 2007 to work on the library’s exterior; Dynamic subcontracted Two Brothers Contracting, Inc. to remove lead-based paint and restore the building’s windows.
“We believe that this contractor may have been negligent in performing some of the work on the library by not securing the heating guns in a safe and responsible manner,” Attorney General Linda Singer said in the release.
“Residents can be fully assured that the District will not accept poor work or poor management of any job from vendors doing business with this city,” Davis P. Gragan, Director of the D.C. Office of Contracting and Procurement, said in the press release.
The suit asks for $12 million in damages to the library’s structure and almost $112,000 to restore fire damaged books and collections.
Lawyers for Dynamic Corporation could not be reached for comment.
Mary Hernandez, Branch Manager for the Georgetown Library, estimated that more than 80 percent of the holdings in the Peabody Room, which contained irreplaceable artifacts and documents on Georgetown’s history, were saved.
“It’s not just the financial toll, it’s the emotional toll,” Hernandez, who is currently working at the Benning branch for the time being, said. “Anyone who has ever lost anything through a fire would understand that.”
According to MosesAlexander Greene, public affairs specialist for the D.C. Public Library, the “renovated, restored, and possibly expanded” Georgetown Library is slated to open in September 2010.
In the meantime, a Bookmobile sits outside the Boys and Girls Club just a block away from the gutted library while the Georgetown branch searches for an interim location. The 40-foot Bookmobile has four computers with internet access, a rack of DVDs and books in motley bookcases, some of them plastic crates.