Man Trapped in DC Seniors' Home for 5 Days After Fire Sues Management

The senior citizen was found after a worker used a crowbar to pry open his door

A senior citizen who was trapped inside his apartment for five days after a fire ripped through a Southeast D.C. seniors' home last year is suing the property's manager.

Raymond Holton accused Edgewood Management Corp. of falsely telling firefighters that all residents had been accounted for.

The raging fire destroyed the Arthur Capper Senior Apartments, in the Navy Yard neighborhood, on Sept. 19, 2018.

Holton, then 74 years old, survived in his apartment for five days without running water, electricity or a phone, the lawsuit filed Tuesday says. He was so hungry that he ate his thyroid medication as food.

"He suffered from nightmares throughout this period and prayed to God constantly for rescue, fearing for his life," his lawsuit says.

At some point during Holton's five days inside his apartment, he fell and injured his knees, back and shoulders. He also lost teeth, according to the lawsuit. The experience left him with permanent mental and physical damage, and he can no longer live alone, the suit says.

He is seeking $3 million. 

Edgewood Management Corp. acted with "outrageous and reckless disregard for residents," the suit says.

The lawsuit also accuses the Maryland company of intentionally disabling the alarm system before the fire. 

Edgewood representative Julie Chase said it's too early to comment on the lawsuit.

Workers searching the building found the injured senior. Structural engineer Allyn Kilsheimer previously told News4 that he and others were going through the building unit by unit to try to determine if the apartments were safe to re-enter.

As they used a crowbar to pry open an apartment door on the second floor, they heard a voice, and Holton came to the door. Stunned, Kilsheimer said he would help him get out.

Holton wanted to walk outside using a cane, but the workers made him sit in a kitchen chair and get carried out, Kilsheimer said. 

After Holton was found, Mayor Muriel Bowser said Edgewood said after the fire that they called the tenants and each person was accounted for. 

Multiple residents of the apartments said they heard no alarms after the powerful fire broke out, injuring 10 people and sending a huge plume of black smoke into the air. Instead, residents were alerted by U.S. Marines and neighbors who banged on their doors. 

The D.C. fire chief told News4 that he heard multiple reports that wall-mounted fire alarms did not work when pulled.

Residents of all 161 units in the building were forced out of their homes. 

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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