The huge blaze that burned down historic Frager's Hardware store in Capitol Hill on June 5 was likely started by a poorly discarded cigarette butt, a D.C. fire source has confirmed to FOX 5.
A source familiar with the fire investigation says an employee discarded a cigarette in a two-gallon bucket in an alley between the hardware store and a catering business, leading to the four-alarm fire. The source says it was an accident and surveillance video captures a 23-year-old worker on a smoking break in the alley about a half hour before the fire started. Everything initially pointed to electrical as a cause until analysis of the entire scene pointed to the cigarette and the bucket.
Over 200 firefighters and 50 fire trucks battled the fire that destroyed the business, which opened in 1920 in the 1100 block of Pennsylvania Avenue, 11 blocks away from the U.S. Capitol.
Two firefighters sustained minor injuries, but none of the 65 store employees nor customers were hurt.
The store’s owner, John Weintraub, who has run Frager's since 1975, says he is planning to rebuild. A pop-up location was opened in a space along 7th Street, SE, that formerly served as the foundation for the temporary location of Eastern Market after it was damaged by a fire in 2007. Weintraub is planning to open additional pop-ups around the neighborhood until the store can be rebuilt.
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