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Senior Resident Found Alive In D.C. Apartment 5 Days After Fire

Engineers made a startling discovery while inspecting a fire-damaged public housing complex. They found a 74-year-old tenant, alive and well, five days after the building was supposedly evacuated in the midst of the blaze.
Alex Brandon

When building inspectors picked through the wreckage of Arthur Capper Senior Apartments following a fire last week, they made a startling discovery: 74-year-old Raymond Holton, alive and well.

Allyn Kilsheimer, the structural engineer who found Holton, said in a news conference on Monday, "I had to use crowbars and construction workers to get into his door, he would have had to use them to get out. There was no way for him in my opinion to get out."

The fire left more than 100 residents displaced.

The Washington Post reported that Holton was taken to George Washington Hospital with minor injuries.

The fire broke out on Wednesday at the senior living center in Washington's Navy Yard neighborhood. According to the Washington Post, firefighters had rescued residents from the top floors of the building as flames consumed the top floor and attic space.

Holton resided on the second floor of the building.

WUSA9 reported that despite the building being evacuated and part of the building destroyed because of the fire, Holton responded to the ordeal with a light spirit and a sense of humor.

He told the Washington Post in a telephone interview from the hospital, "I wasn't scared. I be here by myself anyway."

"I thought they forgot about me. I didn't know about no fire," he added.

Firefighters pour water on a fire at the Arthur Capper Senior Building, an apartment building that houses senior citizens, Wednesday, on Wednesday.
Alex Brandon / AP
Firefighters pour water on a fire at the Arthur Capper Senior Building, an apartment building that houses senior citizens, Wednesday, on Wednesday.

In the news conference on Monday, Mayor Muriel Bowser and Fire Chief Gregory M. Dean addressed questions about the discovery of Holton, saying that a list of residents provided by the building's management company didn't accurately clear the safety of all residents.

Dean told the Washington Post that because the building could collapse, and they believed they "weren't missing anybody," they didn't want to send firefighters into a dangerous situation.

Laura Zeilinger, director of D.C's Human Services Department, told local broadcaster WTOP that while the building's management company provided a list that accounted for all residents, "today, they acknowledged that they had not laid eyes on [the man] personally, although they had the other people who they checked off on their list."

According to CBS News, fire officials said they plan to investigate the reports from residents that the fire alarms and sprinklers didn't function properly.

All residents were rescued safely and according to CBS News, four were taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

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Dina Kesbeh
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