Monday, April 30, 2007

Fire at Georgetown Library

The Georgetown branch of the D.C. Public Library is on fire, according to media reports.

"News 4's Darcy Spencer reported that firefighters are trying to save paintings and historic items from the building. Fire department spokesman Alan Etter said the building's entire roof is on fire and parts of the structure are collapsing. There are no reports of injuries. The building is under renovation. The cause of the fire is unknown. The Georgetown branch was opened in 1935. Its Peabody Room contains a special collection of items pertaining to the history of Georgetown. The fire chief told Spencer that they are aware of the location of the room and will try their best to prevent fire and water damage."

I will update as necessary.

[Update 1: Fire personnel have apparently been ordered out of the building.]

[Update 2: Some folks at Wikipedia are posting updates on this event; they originally reported - incorrectly, this being Wikipedia and all - that the fire was at the Georgetown University Law Library. Most recent updates indicate that the fire is now a three-alarm blaze.]

[Update 3: The Washington Post has a new report as of 3:12 p.m. They quote archivist Gerry McCoy, who told the paper "it appeared important documents on the neighborhood [Georgetown] were burning." "This has always been my worst nightmare. I've always feared this would happen. I've always thought if there was a fire, what would I grab first." A fire department spokesman told the paper "The building is in various stages of collapse. From the top of the ladder you can see sections of the roof the size of a [Ford] Crown Vic dropping into the second floor."

Among the materials feared lost are "files on every address in the neighborhood compiled from over '20 years worth of research.' The collection also includes copies of the Maryland Gazette newspaper from 1775 and 1776, which reported the Declaration of Independence as a news story, according to McCoy. Other items include Civil War maps."

Georgetown mayor Adrian Fenty called the building "our historic flagship library."]