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Fire Displaces Two Families

Children playing with matches blamed.

Two Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority units at 1207 and 1209 Wythe St., were severely damaged by a two-alarm fire the night of Feb. 1, displacing 16 individuals, including 12 children, according to the Alexandria Fire Department.

“The investigation has determined the cause of the fire was accidental due to children playing with matches,” said Jane Malik, public information officer at the Alexandria Fire Department. Damage has been estimated at $65,000, according to Malik.

“According to the Fire Marshal’s office, the fire started in unit 1209 and spread to 1207,” Malik said. There were no reported injuries.

All 16 displaced occupants were provided temporary housing through the Alexandria Chapter of the American Red Cross, according to Katie Murrin-Finch, chapter public relations manager. “We were able to meet the immediate needs of the two displaced families including shelter and clothing,” Murrin-Finch said.

“An investigation is underway by ARHA. When that is complete we will then make a determination as to whether we will provide another unit or evict,” said William Dearman, executive director, ARHA.

The family in 1207 would not be evicted since they were victims of the incident and did not contribute to its cause, according to A. Melvin Miller, chair, ARHA Board of Commissioners. “We will definitely provide another unit to them if one is available,” he said.

However, if there are no units readily available “we are equipped to place them in a hotel or other suitable shelter until a unit does become available,” Miller said. “They would not have to fend for themselves.”