Some offices remain closed following State Department fire

Tuesday - 3/20/2012, 9:42am EDT

Some State Department offices remain closed today in the aftermath of a fire at an office building in Washington, according to an agency release.

A fire on the fifth floor of a State Department building located in Columbia Plaza on the George Washington University campus was extinguished Tuesday, at 7:30 a.m. No one was injured and it's not clear if anyone was even in the building that early in the morning, said Laura Seal, a State spokeswoman. The fire started before normal duty hours.


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The entire SA-1 Low Rise area of the building was closed on Tuesday, allowing damage assessment teams a chance to survey the site. A State Department release reported remediation contractors continued to work throughout the night on repairs.

Several offices within the Low Rise building will be closed all-day today, including the Diplotots Child Care Center, where repairs continue. Employees with children enrolled at the center may have to make alternative arrangements for child care today. Employees with children also have the option to telework. Parents will be notified today about plans for Thursday regarding the center.

Employees with meetings scheduled for today in the Low Rise area will need to make other arrangements. Low Rise area employees affected by the closures may be displaced "for varying periods of time depending on severity of damage to their spaces," the release said.

The SA-1 High Rise area remains open and employees can occupy those offices. Underground parking in that area is also open and available.

Bureau and Operating Status

This is a list of the operational status of the affected offices. The building statuses listed below apply unless bureau management otherwise notifies employees.

  • A: Overseas schools are open for business Wednesday as are Allowances, Commissary and Recreation

  • CA: H324 is open for business Wednesday, as are the third, sixth and seventh floor offices. Fourth floor offices are not open Wednesday.

  • DS: Third floor offices are not open for business Wednesday.

  • EB: Fifth floor offices are not open for business Wednesday.

  • EAP: Fifth floor offices are not open for business Wednesday.

  • Diplotots Child Care Center is not open for business Wednesday.

  • L: Second floor offices are open for business Wednesday.

  • MED: Second floor exam clinic and the third floor office are not open for business Wednesday.

  • NEA: Third floor offices are not open for business Wednesday.

  • PA: Not open for business Wednesday.

  • PM: First floor offices are not open for business Wednesday.

Approximately 800 employees are assigned to the Low Rise building, according to Renee Bemish at the State Department.

"The fire took place on the fifth floor of the low rise, and space in one quadrant of the fifth floor and floors below were the most impacted by water and smoke," Bemish wrote in an email. "Clean-up started immediately and will be ongoing until complete."

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.