Fire At Frager's Hardware Store Seen For Miles; Capitol Hill Neighbors Ban Together To Save Store

4:55 PM, Jun 6, 2013   |    comments
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WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- It may take days for investigators to figure out what caused the blaze that destroyed a D.C. landmark business. 

DC Fire EMS investigators say the damage at Frager's Hardware story is so bad, that it's going to take time to find the cause of the fire, in Southeast, DC. 

"I was in the receiving area, I saw smoke, tried to put out the fire and grab a fire extinguisher, but the fire engulfed the whole store," John Weintraub, Frager's owner said. 

"It was tragic, but there's been a tremendous out-pour of support."

The owners of Frager's Hardware Store in D.C. are thanking the public for their support and well wishes. 

A four-alarm fire gutted the D.C. landmark on Wednesday afternoon. 

Frager's has stood on Pennsylvania Avenue in the Capitol Hill neighborhood for 93 years.

Many people were out at the scene on Thursday morning remembering Frager's and taking some pictures, including Kirsten Oldenburg. 

"Not only am I neighbor and I shop there constantly, I'm also part-time employee. So... I work in the lawn and garden [section] which seems to have survived the fire," Oldenburg said.

She told us about a community effort after the fire. "So you know the community is trying to rally around and ... figure out what -- what we can all do for Frager's to make sure it comes back."

It would be a similar effort to repairing Eastern Market after a fire destroyed it years ago.

"Absolutely. With Eastern Market a couple of years ago. Absolutely. But it's just devastating. Every second you think of something 'oh my gosh, where am I going to get xyz,' you know? All sorts of things that we rely on Frager's to supply to us or sell us. That -- we have no idea where to go -- where to go get them while they're shut down. The fire is just devastating the community," said Oldenburg.

Firefighters from all over the District were called out to battle one of the worst blazes we have seen in D.C. for a long time. Beneath the fierce flames and plumes of black smoke lay a neighborhood landmark left barely recognizable. Heavy black smoke could be seen from Nationals Park.  A couple of firefighters were injured but no serious injuries were reported. None of the employees were hurt.

"They all got out that were there working at the time," said Oldenburg.

For the people who live in the Capitol Hill area, Oldenburg told us, "It's just a community center, you know? It happens to be a store."

Wednesday night, a D.C. resident seemed to share the same sentiment. The resident said, "If many other things went away in Capitol hill we would be less sad than if we lost Frager's."

The Capitol Hill Community Foundation website shows that the organization has set up a special fund to help in the aftermath of the fire. Donations can be made at

Partial road closures remain in the area on Thursday morning. Pennsylvania Avenue from 10th to 12th Streets, SE eastbound is closed as well as 11th and 12th Streets northbound at G Street, SE and E Street at 10th Street, SE. Pennsylvania Avenue westbound is open in the area.

Some firefighters are in the area ensuring the fire stays out.

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