April 6, 2000
Statement by the Archivist of the United States on the Second Records Center Fire
On Wednesday, April 5, 2000, a second fire was discovered by employees in a stack area at the Washington National Records Center, a storage facility operated by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). The employees extinguished the fire with hand-held fire extinguishers and were subsequently assisted by the Prince Georges Fire Department. No one was injured by the fire.
Although we currently estimate that perhaps as few as ten boxes of records sustained fire damage, I am extremely concerned about the situation. The fire department determined that the cause of the fire was arson. The fire department, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) and the National Archives is actively pursuing the investigation.
In the meantime, I have implemented a number of initiatives in an attempt to prevent any reoccurrence and to protect the safety of the staff and researchers, as well as the records stored at the facility.
- Increased presence of roving guards patrolling the building
- Further tightened access to records storage areas.
- Camera surveillance in appropriate areas.
- Audible alarms on all emergency exit doors.
- Enhanced supervisory coverage.
The ATF is currently reviewing NARA security procedures and will make recommendations for further enhancements.
The Prince George's Fire Department is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the apprehension of the individual/or individuals responsible for the fire.
JOHN W. CARLIN
ARCHIVIST OF THE UNITED STATES
For additional PRESS information, please contact the National Archives Public Affairs staff at (301) 837-1700 or by e-mail.