WASHINGTON - Surprise and confusion in the District after an elderly man was found alive inside a burned senior housing complex five days after the structure was badly damaged by fire.
The man, 74-year-old Raymond Holton, seemed to slip through the cracks only to be discovered Monday morning as work crews went into the building. D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said in a press briefing Monday that he was found by crews hired by the owner of the building. Inspectors say crews had to use tools to pry open the apartment door where they found Holton inside on the couch after hearing his voice calling to them.
FOX 5's Melanie Alnwick reports that Holton was accidentally listed as being accounted for and that the owner of the building is taking the blame for what they are calling a terrible mistake.
Holton was a resident of the building and had been trapped in a second-floor apartment of the Arthur Capper Senior Building since the fire on Wednesday, according to officials.
In a phone interview with FOX 5 from his hospital bed, Holton said that he had enough water but didn't have enough food while trapped inside. He said he ate his pills while he was trapped. Holton told FOX 5 that he yelled to rescuers from a window but was not heard. "Then I decided I couldn't get through so I just waited my turn," he said. Holton said he was hopeful rescuers were on the way but at the same time scared. When asked what was going through his mind when he realized he was trapped and by himself, Holton replied that he wasn't alone. "Well I wasn't alone," he said. "I was with my God."
Chief Gregory Dean spoke with Alnwick on Tuesday and said that based on information given to them at the time stating that all occupants were accounted for and given the instability of the structure, firefighters decided not to reenter the building. Structural engineers are on the scene Tuesday, Alnwick reported.
The fire spread to three alarms on Wednesday. Several people were transported with non-life-threatening injuries.