7 On Your Side: Why didn’t fire alarms warn seniors their apartment building was on fire?

Why didn’t fire alarms warn seniors their apartment building was on fire? (ABC7)

The 7 On Your Side I-Team is looking into what happened with the fire alarms during the apartment complex fire on Wednesday in D.C. not far from Nats park.

Residents complained they got no warning.

The I-Team did some digging and the Arthur Capper Senior Public Housing that went up in flames is managed by Edgewood Management Company based in Gaithersburg, Maryland and is valued at $42 million.

The affordable housing opened in 2007. It has 162 one and two bedroom apartments for residents 55 years old and up.

The D.C. Fire Department inspected the building last year. Fire officials confirm it was also inspected in January by the D.C. Housing Department and the fire alarm system was checked in April.

They say smoke alarms in apartments did go off but manual fire alarms in hallways that send out a loud siren throughout the building didn't.

“People pulled it. It was manual pulls we were told. The building maintenance... They pulled one. So no one was hearing the horns. So we need to find out exactly where that malfunction was in the system,” says Chief Gregory Dean with the D.C. Fire Department.

Chief Dean says the sprinklers were working properly but didn't go off because only the 4th floor had light smoke when firefighters arrived.

Sprinklers need to be set off by flames not smoke.

"We are fortunate. We are fortunate we didn't lose lives,” adds Chief Dean.

District records indicate a fire did break out in the same apartment building in 2013 but it was contained to one apartment.

7 On Your Side is still waiting for the District to answer more questions and provide inspection records of the building.

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