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Fire on White House grounds

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December 19, 2007

Thick smoke billowed from a fire Wednesday in Vice President Dick Cheney’s suite of offices in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building next to the White House.

Cheney’s office, known for its historical furnishings and ornate decorations, was damaged by smoke and water from fire hoses, officials said. There was concern about water damage to the floor, made of mahogany, white maple and cherry and considered to be very delicate.

The adjacent office of the vice president’s political director, Amy Whitelaw, was heavily damaged by fire, said Cheney spokeswoman Lea Anne McBride.

The vice president was not in the building at the time; he was in the West Wing of the White House with President Bush.

More than 1,000 people who work in the building were evacuated as the second through the fifth floor of the building filled with smoke. The fire broke out on the second floor of the building about 9:15 a.m. and was under control within a half hour, District of Columbia fire department spokesman Alan Etter said.

White House press secretary Dana Perino said the blaze appeared to have started in an electrical closet or a telephone bank.

The building was reopened Wednesday afternoon and Cheney walked through to see the damage. The set of offices contains the vice president’s ceremonial office, used for meetings and press interviews, and the offices of his staff. His primary office is across West Executive Avenue in the West Wing.

Earlier, Bush and Cheney appeared on West Executive Avenue, between the White House and the damaged building, to thank District of Columbia firefighters. A fire tanker nearby still had its ladder extended to a window on the blackened second floor.

District of Columbia firefighters poured water on the blaze, broke windows and moved furniture onto a balcony.

There were no reports of serious injuries, Etter said. A U.S. Marine stationed at the building smashed a fifth-floor window to escape from the smoke and had to be rescued from the ledge, he said. The man suffered a minor cut to his hand.

The extent of water, fire and smoke damage was unclear.

Investigators were working to determine the cause of the blaze, Etter said.

Since 1960, Cheney’s office has been occupied by every vice president from Lyndon B. Johnson, with the exception of Hubert Humphrey, who used a room on the floor below. Since its restoration in the 1980s, it has been considered a “ceremonial” office.

It contains a desk first used by Theodore Roosevelt in 1902 and later by Presidents Taft, Wilson, Harding, Coolidge, Hoover, Truman and Eisenhower. The inside of the top drawer has been signed by the various users since the 1940s.

The Executive Office Building, a commanding structure with a granite, slate and cast iron exterior at the corner of Pennsylvania Avenue and 17th Street, houses the Office of Management and Budget and staff of the National Security Council and other agencies.

11 Responses to Fire on White House grounds

  1. OldFart

    December 19, 2007 at 11:20 am

    Now, I wonder what will be “lost” in this balze? Maybe the White House Visiter Logs…

  2. LurkingFromTheLeft

    December 19, 2007 at 11:35 am

    Once again…

    …this only PROVES King G 43 DOES read CHB –

    …he saw Steve’s post yesterday –

    …guess Dumbass couldn’t get Barney to agree to terms –

    LFTL

    p.s. OR have someone read it to HIM –

    …sorry!

  3. scritch

    December 19, 2007 at 11:29 am

    Can this possibly morph into our version of the Reichstag fire?

    Stay tuned for further news!

  4. ekaton

    December 19, 2007 at 8:12 pm

    I had not thought about that until I just read your comment. Shit! This is just the reason Bush has issued all those police-state executive orders giving ‘the presidency’ dictatorial power in an emergency, such as finding, hypothetically, that the fire was set by a ‘dissident group’ attempting assassination of the Vice President. We may be teetering on the edge right now depending how this all ‘spins’ out.

    — kent shaw aka ekaton

  5. bjiller

    December 19, 2007 at 1:12 pm

    Oldfart beat me to it. You just KNOW that some time down the road, some important document won’t be produced because it was lost in this fire.

  6. ekaton

    December 19, 2007 at 8:17 pm

    Right now is when I miss Karl Rove. He would already be claiming that he didn’t know the democrats would stoop so low as to destroy records in the Vice President’s office, records that would have proven the VP innocent of any wrong doing. There would never be any question as to whether the fire was accidental or by intent of an individual(s), that wouldn’t even be addressed. Wow, I miss Karl. Things are getting curiouser and curiourser, though, thats for sure.

    — kent shaw

  7. RSW

    December 19, 2007 at 4:26 pm

    Look!!! Elvis!!!

    More evidence has left the building.

    Oldernwiser

  8. OldFart

    December 19, 2007 at 6:44 pm

    Addendum to my earlier post.

    In or near (utility closet next to) Vice President Cheney’s ceremonial office. Now, I know “stuff” has disappeared. How many more CIA Tapes, Surveillance Logs, and other highly incriminating documents went poof?

    I wonder what type of smoke a paper fire produces? Light gray, a light haze, I wonder…

  9. LurkingFromTheLeft

    December 20, 2007 at 7:29 am

    And what did the colour…

    …indicate? –

    …mission accompished? –

    …or a new pope on the way? –

    LFTL

  10. ekaton

    December 19, 2007 at 8:25 pm

    What an amazing example of deus ex machina ‘cept this ain’t no novel. Our heroes, the lunatics, are backed into a corner. Only some sort of miracle could save them. Voila! Fire in the office of VP Cheney, the Dick, erasing sins as well as accolades. GOP claims arson by ‘leftists’. Any hack spy novelist would be ashamed to send that into his editor. Reality is being replaced by the surreal and the absurd.

    Just another old curmudgeon,

    — Kent Shaw

  11. SEAL

    December 20, 2007 at 12:14 am

    These clowns operate just like a neighborhood mafia. Absolutely obvious – but PROVE it. No one on the inside will break the oath and talk. Those on the outside are too intimidated to talk. Don Bush continues to swagger down Pennsylvania Ave. smirking (he thinks that’s a smile) at the congressional shopkeepers cowering in their doorways.

    The government of goodfellas! Where the hell are the patriots? Oh! That’s right. They were spying too. Both spying – both undefeated. I wonder…..