A fire broke out on the fourth floor of the Pentagon Row apartments just before 6:00 tonight, sending residents into the street as firefighters battled the flames.
The blaze reportedly started and was mostly contained to one apartment on the east side of the building. However, water and smoke damage were possible in floors above and below the apartment. At least one family was displaced.
No injuries were reported. Police blocked eastbound Army Navy Drive between S. Joyce Street and S. Hayes Street to allow fire equipment to access the scene.
The northbound GW Parkway has been shut down at the Spout Run Parkway due to falling rocks in the roadway. From the county’s Office of Emergency Management:
George Washington Parkway Northbound past Spout Run Parkway, Arlington Co. VA has been closed until atleast 10 PM due to debris in Roadway (Falling rocks)
All northbound travel lanes are blocked. Traffic is being diverted onto Spout Run Parkway to I-66 Westbound. Delays begin near the Roosevelt Bridge, approximately 1.5 miles. Drivers should avoid this area and take alternate routes.
The agency says it is calling in additional support personnel, who will be “on duty throughout the weekend to respond to any situations that may arise.”
WMATA is supplying chain saws to Metro drivers, “for use in the event of downed trees.” Metrobuses and MetroAccess vehicles may be detoured around fallen trees and flooded areas, as necessary. Metro is also checking all drainage pumps and clearing out debris from drainage areas near Metro stations.
“Supervisors will monitor critical locations, such as bus garages, parking garages, and flood-prone areas throughout the weekend,” Metro said in a press release.
Metro has placed more than 2,000 sandbags around the escalators of Metrorail stations that have a history of flooding, including the Foggy Bottom and King Street stations. None of the listed stations are in Arlington.
“We’re putting all of our resources in place to address any issues that arise out of the extreme weather conditions this weekend,” said Metro General Manager and CEO Richard Sarles. “We will be updating our customers through our website, Twitter, email alerts and the media.”
See our earlier post on Arlington County’s hurricane preparations here.
Local Democrats are putting the unprecedented mud-slinging leading up to Tuesday’s primary behind them as they press forward to November’s general election with a slate of four candidates and two Republican challengers.
“For months, our Democratic candidates have waged energetic and spirited primary campaigns, and we look forward to all campaigns being able to turn this energy into supporting our united Democratic ticket in November,” said Arlington County Democratic Committee Chair Mike Lieberman, following a 31st District state Senate race that the Washington Post called “one of the most heated, unpleasant races in recent memory.”
Candidates Barbara Favola and Jaime Areizaga-Soto, who were trading accusations of making racist statements and destroying the environment less than two weeks ago, are now making nice via prepared statements.
“We ran an energetic, grassroots, progressive campaign throughout the 31st District in Northern Virginia and I am very proud of the work we did,” Areizaga-Soto said in a statement. “I call on all my supporters throughout Arlington, Fairfax and Loudoun to work for a Barbara Favola victory in November.
“This campaign… demonstrated that Mr. Areizaga-Soto and I share the same strong commitment to Democratic values,” Favola said in a statement. “I applaud Mr. Areizaga-Soto’s service to the Democratic Party and to the Country. His talents will be a significant asset in the upcoming battle to retain the 31st Senate seat”
In an interview, Favola said she hopes the race between herself and Republican Caren Merrick will stay focused on the issues.
“I’m hopeful that the general will be a civil conversation on issues like education, transportation, the environment and creating jobs,” she said. “I think voters really don’t like the negative campaigning. They really want to be given a reason to vote for you.”
Favola says she’s ready to face the well-funded Merrick, adding that Democratic unity will help her prevail.
“We’re geared up to move into the general,” she said. “We have a great message, we’re positive, we’re talking about issues people care about… I absolutely think Democrats are going to be able to unite. We know that the stakes are high. It’s not just winning the 31st, it’s keeping control of the state Senate. I have every indication they’ll rally around.”
In the Sun Gazette today, Merrick called the mud-slinging between Favola and Areizaga-Soto an example of “what’s wrong with politics today.” Should the general election turn negative, however, Favola says she isn’t sure how her issue-focused campaign will react.
“I guess one thing about politics is that it’s always unpredictable,” she said. “I’m not going to presuppose how we’re going to respond.”
Kitty O’Shea’s, the unpretentious Irish pub at 2403 Wilson Boulevard in Courthouse, will be closing this weekend, according to a note on the pub’s web site.
“Saturday, August 27, is our last day of operation,” the note says. “Feel free to express your displeasure with Schupp Companies – Park Street Development.”
Kitty O’Shea’s owner Danny McFadden has been engaged in a costly legal battle with his landlord, the Schupp Companies, over what McFadden says is an attempt to evict him so the property can be redeveloped. McFadden claims that he still has four more years on his lease, while landlord Ray Schupp says the lease ended in 2010.
“He’s been trying to force me out,” McFadden said in an interview last week. “I’ve spent hundreds of thousands fighting this case… I guess they think that I’m going to go away, that when my money runs out I’m going to close shop. As far as I’m concerned, my lease runs to 2015.”
When we talked last week, McFadden said he was appealing a court decision against him to the Virginia Supreme Court, with the hope that it would give him some additional time to look for a new space to lease in Arlington. Now, he says he’s being forced to move out despite the appeal. McFadden is considering transferring his employees to Murphy’s Law, a pub he owns in the Tenleytown neighborhood of D.C., while the appeal goes through the court system over the next 4-5 months.
Last year the state Supreme Court ruled against McFadden in his effort to appeal his eviction. McFadden said he was seeking a trial by a jury, but instead has been subject to early rulings by judges.
“I’ve asked for jury trials, I haven’t had a day in court,” he said. “Every case is a summary judgment for the landlord.”
It’s not clear what will replace Kitty O’Shea’s at this point. The entire block is currently subject to a rezoning request, which would convert it from a low-rise commercial zone to a higher density mixed-use residential zone. An earlier attempt by Schupp to rezone the block for use as a hotel was shot down in 2009.
County staff have voiced support for the current rezoning proposal, which would likely result in a new apartment complex being built on the site. But Schupp says that it could be 2-5 years before the necessary rezoning, financing and permitting process go through. In the meantime, he’s looking for a new business to lease the space on a short-term basis.
Update at 11:55 a.m. — Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell has declared a state of emergency in advance of the hurricane.
Arlington County is bracing for impacts from Hurricane Irene.
Irene, which is expected to be the strongest hurricane to hit the Northeast in decades, could bring torrential rains and high winds to the Mid-Atlantic region Saturday night and throughout the day on Sunday. In anticipation of the storm, the county is “mobilizing both people and equipment,” according to Jack Brown, Director of Emergency Management for Arlington County.
The police, fire and parks departments will be bringing in additional personnel this weekend, Brown told ARLnow.com. The county’s 911 call center will also have additional employees on hand, and the Office of Emergency Management will be staffed throughout the weekend.
County crews are cleaning out drains to ensure the expected heavy rains will be able to flow into storm sewers. The parks department is removing picnic tables and other equipment from areas near streams and river beds, in anticipation of flooding. The county is also “developing plans for shelters, if the need arises,” according to Brown.
The county and Dominion Power both say they’re preparing for downed trees and power lines in the hurricane’s wake. The county has backup communications systems — including satellite phones and amateur radio stations — in case cell phones or existing radio systems go down during the storm.
“It could be challenging, yes, but since 9/11 a lot of steps have been taken to ensure better communications,” Brown said.
Most importantly, says Brown, Arlington is working to get information about hurricane preparedness out to the public.
“The first concern is the public safety,” he said. “If we do have impacts from this storm, people need to be prepared for that… It’s all about personal and family preparedness.”
Brown said any sort of evacuation of Arlington looks unlikely at this point. In fact, he’s encouraging people to stay at home.
“In most cases, people are better off just staying home and hunkering down,” Brown advised. “Don’t go out on the road… just have enough food and supplies to weather the storm.”
“We don’t want people out in the middle of a crisis getting in the way,” he added.
A suspicious item prompted authorities to briefly close Washington Boulevard between I-395 and the GW Parkway around 10:00 this morning.
The item was located along the fence line of the Pentagon and Washington Boulevard, according to Pentagon Force Protection Agency spokesman Chris Layman. The item has since been cleared.
No other details are available at this time.
Police are investigating a possible hit and run involving an Arlington Transit bus.
A driver told police that an ART bus hit his driver’s side door near the intersection of S. Courthouse Road and 2nd Street, then continued on its way. No injuries were reported.
Police arrived to interview the driver and take photos of the car. A representative from Forsythe Transportation, which contracts with the county to run the ART bus fleet, also arrived and talked to police. Later, a passerby told ARLnow.com that a No. 42 ART bus was offloaded at S. Courthouse and 2nd Street as police inspected it.
Earlier this summer Forsythe fired a number of striking ART bus drivers and went on a hiring spree to quickly replace them. We’re awaiting comment from the county’s Department of Environmental Services, which is responsible for the county’s transit services.
Update at 10:45 a.m. — The ART web site reports that all buses going through S. Courthouse Road are “late due to… police activity.”
Aftershock Felt Across Region — A 4.5 magnitude aftershock jolted some residents out of bed just after 1:00 last night. The epicenter of the aftershock was five miles south of Mineral, Virginia, epicenter of Tuesday’s 5.8 magnitude quake. [U.S. Geological Survey]
Arlington Was Krupicka’s Waterloo — In the three-way primary battle for the 30th District state Senate seat, Alexandria City Councilman Rob Krupicka picked up nearly half of the vote in his hometown. But he garnered a measly 14 percent of the vote in Arlington, allowing Del. Adam Ebbin to press his local advantage and claim victory. “Ignore Arlington at your peril,” says the Sun Gazette. Meanwhile, Krupicka says his political career may be over. [Sun Gazette, Del Ray Patch]
Design Proposal for Ft. Myer Heights Playground — The design for a new playground in Ft. Myer Heights includes “nature-themed playground apparatuses,” “two picnic tables and a barbecue” and “a sand play area with a non-potable water pump.” [Ode Street Tribune]
A flash flood watch has been issued for Arlington and the rest of the D.C. region due to showers and thunderstorms expected to arrive in the area later today.
The National Weather Service says one to two inches of rainfall can be expected in a short period of time.
FROM NOON EDT TODAY THROUGH THIS EVENING
* SHOWERS AND THUNDERSTORMS WILL DEVELOP TODAY… AND BE NUMEROUS TO WIDESPREAD THIS AFTERNOON INTO EARLY THIS EVENING. A FEW OF THESE THUNDERSTORMS WILL BE CAPABLE OF PRODUCING HEAVY RAINFALL. WIDESPREAD RAINFALL AMOUNTS OF ONE TO TWO INCHES CAN BE EXPECTED IN THE INTERSTATE 95 CORRIDOR THROUGH THIS EVENING. HOWEVER… A BAND OF HEAVIER RAINFALL… PRODUCING RAINFALL IN EXCESS OF TWO INCHES IN JUST A COUPLE OF HOURS… WILL BE POSSIBLE.
The closure is due to power lines that were knocked down by a tractor trailer, according to police spokeswoman Det. Crystal Nosal. Dominion is on the scene and expects to have the lines repaired by 10:30 a.m. More than 150 Dominion customers are without power in the area due to the downed lines.
Eastbound Lee Highway traffic is being diverted onto southbound George Mason Drive. Cars are not being allowed to turn left at the intersection, to ensure that traffic moves smoothly through the area.