Oct. 21, 2003

Gas Line Rupture Causes Fire

Rapid Response Curtails Incident’s Impact

A break in a gas main along 23rd Street in front of the old hospital demolition site led to a serious fire Oct. 7, forcing police and fire officials to block off the surrounding streets from 22nd and H streets to Pennsylvania Avenue and Washington Circle. Officials also closed the Foggy Bottom Metro station, but allowed trains to pass through the station while crews worked above to extinguish the fire. Ross Hall and certain floors of the GW Hospital were evacuated and patients were sent to the Smith Center where cots and medical supplies were on hand. Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis, Munson and City Hall residence halls also were evacuated as a precaution.

Investigators are still looking for the cause of the blaze, however, at a press conference following the incident, DC Fire Chief Adrian Thompson told reporters he believed it may have been sparked by car that stalled along 23rd Street after hitting a pothole. The driver managed to escape the burning vehicle and walk across the street to the GW Hospital for treatment. With the exception of the driver, no injuries were reported and the University returned to normal activities by 2:30 pm.

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