Frager's fire caused by cigarette butt, fire officials believe

In the three weeks since the massive fire gutted Frager’s Hardware, rumors have run rampant regarding what was to blame – whether an employee knocked something over or there was some sort of spillage.

But it turns out the ferocious fire that took 200 firefighters more than five hours to put out was ignited by a single cigarette butt.

Sources tell ABC 7 that it was a used cigarette discarded in an alleyway behind the building that set into motion the fire that destroyed the Capitol Hill landmark that stood for 93 years.

Surveying the damage tonight for insurance purposes is Ziad Demian, whose architectural office above the store was also a complete loss.

“I grabbed my laptop and wallet and soon after that, the whole building was on fire,” he said. “It’s mind-numbing.”

While the official results of the investigation won’t be released for another week or so, the Washington Post reported that a 23-year-old store employee was seen on the surveillance video smoking behind the building about 35 minutes before the fire was reported. The cigarette was put in a plastic bucket that then melted, igniting the fire.