WASHINGTON (FOX 5 DC) - Crews are leveling the site of a senior center that went up in flames on September 19, 2018.
The Arthur Capper Senior Apartments were destroyed after a fire started in the attic.
Five days after the fire, officials found one of the residents trapped inside his room, but unharmed.
Five months later, the residents who lived in the building – which is now reduced to rubble – are just beginning to settle in to permanent housing.
“It's been hard. It's been very hard adjustment and the ladies we were a family and now we're broken up all over the city and we're kind of mourning some of our friends we've lost at least four people since the fire not because of the fire, but just because of circumstances,” said Trinette Chase – a former Arthur Capper resident. “Even though we have an apartment which is a blessing, you feel like you're sitting in someone else's house because it's nothing there of yours.:
“I lost everything, but the blessing is I'm getting better. The place that I've been relocated to, I love it. I really love my new place,” said Frances Crawford, another former resident.
FOX 5 spoke with several former Arthur Capper residents at a Valentine’s Day Ball at the Greenleaf Recreation Center Thursday.
The seniors say that for two months after the fire they were in hotel rooms.
City officials tell FOX 5, all but one resident is in a permanent apartment or care facility.
The one person is in a hotel paid for by the city.
Several others have since died of natural causes, city officials say.
Most residents are still struggling with the fact that they lost all their belongings.
They do have the option of moving back into the Arthur Capper when it’s rebuilt.
More information has also come out since the fire – including a federal report released at the end of last month.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms criticized D.C. Fire Chief Gregory Dean for not allowing investigators access to the building in the days after the fire.
According to the report, critical information was lost that could have explained why the fire alarms didn’t function.
The damage will cost in excess of $50 million.
The exact cause of the fire is undetermined.
Still, officials believe it may have been started by human activity in the attic, but that person – or people – remains unknown.
D.C. fire officials responded to the report, saying the chief didn’t let investigators in because the building was deemed unsafe.
They stand by the decision – citing the fact that there were no fatalities.