Fire Hydrant Closest to Fatal DC Row House Fire Was Broken

What to Know

  • The Aug. 18 fire sent smoke pouring out of the row house on Kennedy Street NW. A man died of his injuries
  • Nine-year-old Yafet Solomon was rushed to a hospital with injuries and later died

The fire hydrant closest to the D.C. fire that killed a child and a man earlier this month was broken, and neighbors tried putting out the fire with a garden hose, News4 has learned.

DC Water, which maintains hydrants, was not aware the hydrant was broken until after the fire, a representative said Thursday. 

The D.C. fire department said the broken hydrant did not affect their ability to put out the fire at 708 Kennedy St. NW on Aug. 18. But they said they did not realize the hydrant was out of service until they hooked up to it and no water came out.

Meanwhile, two neighbors used a garden hose to try to extinguish the blaze.

Cellphone video shows dark smoke streaming out of the burning house while people were still trapped inside.

Harlan Jones and Dwight Smith grabbed a garden hose before firefighters arrived.

"When I came out, I saw a wall of smoke," Jones said.

D.C.'s 911 call center told News4 there was a four-minute delay in dispatching fire trucks when the first call about the fire came in from a passing police officer. The reason for that delay was not immediately clear.

When firefighters arrived, they found that the Kennedy Street hydrant was broken. Another truck had to hook up to a hydrant a block away and run a water line to the fire. Firefighters said they had 500 gallons of water in their truck, but that's only about four minutes worth of water.

A DC Water representative said the hydrant has since been repaired.

According to their website, there were 42 hydrants out of service across D.C. as of July, out of 9,802 total hydrants. Go here to check the status of your hydrant.

The fire killed 9-year-old Yafet Solomon and a man who police have not named, pending notification of his family. 

News4 reported earlier this week that at least three city agencies knew of hazardous conditions in the row house where they lived, which was home to more than a dozen Ethiopian immigrants. 

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