D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser announced in a statement that she is referring the fire that claimed the life of a nine-year-old boy for a criminal investigation, citing the property’s status as an unlicensed rental.
The fire broke out last Sunday in Northwest D.C. A child named Yafety Solomon who was injured during the fire died on Tuesday. A man also living in the apartment received injuries in the fire and died previously, while a woman and two officers with the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) were taken to the hospital with less severe injuries.
The apartment where the fire took place is located in the 700 block of Kennedy Street NW. It was later discovered that the apartment was not licensed for tenants to live in. Mayor Bowser requested that federal prosecutors launch a criminal probe into the incident, according to Wednesday’s statement released by her office.
“Our hearts are broken knowing that this fire claimed the lives of two of our neighbors – one of them just nine years old. The District will not tolerate landlords who prey on vulnerable populations, operating unlicensed rental properties and showing no concern for people’s safety,” said Bowser, adding that her administration was conducting a comprehensive investigation into the property owner to find out whether he has other rental properties and what conditions they are in.
The D.C. Office of the Attorney General and the U.S. Attorney’s Office is expected to soon take action.
D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine also posted a message on his Twitter account on Wednesday, saying “My heart breaks for the 9-year-old boy who succumbed to his injuries from Sunday’s fatal Kennedy St. fire, and my sympathies are with the families of both victims. Our office has received a referral from DCRA for a criminal investigation and we are pursuing the matter.”
My heart breaks for the 9-year-old boy who succumbed to his injuries from Sunday’s fatal Kennedy St. fire, and my sympathies are with the families of both victims.
Our office has received a referral from DCRA for a criminal investigation and we are pursuing the matter.
— AG Karl A. Racine (@AGKarlRacine) August 21, 2019
The cause of the fire remains unclear, however officials mentioned the building’s “narrow halls, broken smoke detectors and barred exits” as posing potential danger to residents, NBC Washington reported. There were also metal bars blocking the front door.