Massive Fire at Bodega on Corner of Rock Creek Church And Warder Street

DSCN1952, originally uploaded by Prince of Petworth.

The City Paper tipped me off to this fire but they were thin on details so I did some investigating on my own. I cruised by yesterday and talked to a bunch of neighbors to see if I could piece together what happened. There are some facts and some speculation. First the facts. This fire took place late Friday evening (technically Saturday morning at around 2:30am). It took the fire department over an hour to get in because they had to file away the metal bars that surround the store. The store is pretty much a total loss.

Speculation. It appears that the owners lease the store so it wouldn’t make sense that the owners started it on their own. There has been trouble in this store in the past (most recently someone was chased inside and shot around a year and a half ago). So there was some speculation that it could have been set by some unsavory characters. That doesn’t seem likely as an eyewitness told me it appeared the fire was coming from the inside and not the outside. Additionally I’m told there were a number of old electrical coolers that could have malfunctioned so it seem quite possible it was simply an electrical fire.

I’m thankful that noone was injured. I’m supposed to get some photos of the fire in action and I’ll post when I get them. If you have any photos of the fire in action please send to me. I hope the store was properly insured so that they can rebuild soon. I guess I’m a little thin on details too…


5 Comment

  • i saw the owners while i was walking my dog on saturday sitting across the street sadley stairing at what was left of there store. They told me it was an electrical fire and that they DO have insurance. I told them i wished the best for them and i was sorry for their loss. They are such sweet people i wish the best for them.

  • I’m so glad to hear they are insured. THey are really nice people, and they always stock the essentials: Negro Modelo and Buffalo Trace.

  • oh no! That is a good store, I have stopped there on my way to Robin & Byron’s!

  • There is a basic story about this fire on the website. It has some pictures of the fire fight. I was away for the night of the fire and I was sad to return to find my corner store gutted, but I’m hopeful the store (and building) owners consider rebuilding. I understand the owner’s have had a challenge warding off robberies with relative frequency, hence the iron fenced windows and double locked doors–the slight irony being that the fire department could not easily enter through those same doors to douse THIS threat. I’m very glad no one was *badly* hurt (dcfire indicates a fireman was injured).

    I would like to see Royal Farms Food Market rebuilt, especially with some improvements in fire safety and security. The way I see it, like this store, many or most long-time neighborhood stores throughout Petworth (and the city) are fitted with the bars, plywood, steel rolldowns, or out-and-out bricked up closures on windows and doors in order to keep out vandals, burglars and worse. I wish it were that all those measures weren’t necessary for store owners to feel secure in property, life and limb. Actually, the fire fighting challenges notwithstanding, I sometimes ponder whether the windowless corner store model, with their double locked doors and bullet-proof plexiglass counterfronts actually do deter rather than attract those types of attacks. If I were to rob that same store myself (with an accomplice of course, as has been done relatively recently there) I would position a lookout out front, enter the store with a stolen but newly legal handgun, and make my demands–no passersby could ever see into the store from the sidewalk out front, and thus few but those inside could be witnesses. I’d take my loot and walk away…

    While I’ve my own theories for what would be the safest and most secure replacement store design (for crime and fire: up-to-code wiring, open glass fronts, clear sightlines, cameras, alarms, good lighting, etc.) does anyone know of sociological or architectural standards or conventions, or theories or evidence or studies of the like? i.e., how should it be rebuilt?

    Are there any architectural non-profits that would be suitable to volunteer some design expertise? Any creative architecture school programs that could help rejuvinate a neighborhood store?

    I don’t actually know if the landlords or store owners are planning to rebuild. but this got me athinkin’. Phew, I seem to have had too much coffee this morning.

  • I just met the kind family that ran this place when I moved in 2 weeks ago, and my roommate and I were at their store the day before. Sad indeed…I am glad they have insurance and hope that they will reopen.

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