Most State Dept. offices reopen as fire cleanup continues

Thursday - 3/22/2012, 9:52am EDT

Work crews are still on site assessing the damage at a State Department complex in D.C. after a fire Tuesday morning. A number of offices in the SA-1 Low-Rise complex in Columbia Plaza on George Washington University's campus have been temporarily displaced, but most employees will be able to return to work this morning.

The fire broke out on the fifth floor of the Low-Rise complex on Tuesday, around 5:30 a.m., setting off the sprinkler system and causing significant water damage.

A State Department release reported that remediation work continues in all effected spaces, with fans and industrial water extraction trailers assisting in the cleanup. Lingering smoke odors are expected to dissipate over the next few days and are considered harmless to employees.

Renee C. Bemish, a special assistant at State, wrote in an email that the cause of the fire is still under investigation and the damage costs have not been determined.

Clean-up at the Diplotots child care center is completed. The center reopened this morning, but the regular drop off location is not accessible. An alternate drop off location has been set up near the loading dock and is designated with traffic cones.

The State Department is encouraging all employees to pick up their personal belongings as soon as possible and bins are being provided so that employees can dispose of damaged materials.

Many of the areas in the Low-Rise complex that were previously closed are now open and accessible via all four elevators. Employees can contact the Executive Offices for updates on the conditions of specific areas.

Employees affected by the fire can attend a 10 a.m. informational town hall meeting in the Dean Acheson Auditorium.

The underground parking area and SA-1 High Rise are also open.

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