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Investigators Identify Probable Cause Of Fire At Cafritz Home

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Fire investigators in the District believe they know what sparked the blaze at Peggy Cooper Cafritz's home on Chain Bridge road.

The official cause of the fire has been ruled an "undetermined accident;" but based on interviews with the housekeeper, the chef and others at the home, D.C. Attorney General Peter Nickels says investigators have settled on a hypothesis: "linseed-oil-soaked-paper towels that were left in a plastic bag."

When firefighters arrived at the Cafritz mansion on July 29th, they say more than 80 percent of the first floor was engulfed. Low water pressure, the elevation of the home and the layout of the neighborhood hampered their ability to put out the fire. As a result, the fire department and the city's water and sewer authority have promised overhaul how they fight fires under similar conditions.

Patrick Madden reports...


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