(Updated at 11:40 a.m.) A two-story building on the 2700 block of Columbia Pike caught fire at about 10:00 a.m. Tuesday.
The building, the headquarters of High Sierra Pools and former location of Ski Chalet, was safely evacuated, according to scanner traffic and company employees on the scene. Forty minutes after the fire was first reported, firefighters have contained it. Smoke stopped coming out of the building at around 10:40 a.m.
Fire and rescue crews from Fairfax and Alexandria joined the Arlington County Fire Department to battle the flames. The Pike is shut down from S. Walter Reed Drive to Barton Street to accommodate the large response, and ACFD Capt. David Santini expects it to be shut down past noon.
Santini said High Sierra Pools employees smelled smoke and called 911 at 10:05 a.m. When fire crews arrived, they found the fire had originated in the space between the roof and the second floor ceiling.
“We called a second alarm because of the intense work needed to gain access to the roof,” Santini said. “There were heavy fire conditions and we had to tear up several sections to gain ventilation.”
So far, Santini said there’s no estimate on the damage to the building, and inspectors are conducting an investigation to determine the fire’s cause.
The building’s exterior, from the street, looks largely unaffected by the fire, save for a few scorch marks on the roof.
Metrorail service is suspended between Rosslyn and Foggy Bottom due to a reported arcing insulator outside the Foggy Bottom station.
Firefighters were originally called to the Rosslyn station around 8:20 a.m. for a report of smoke in the station.
The station was evacuated but first responders only found a slight odor of smoke, according to Arlington County Fire Department spokesman Lt. Sarah Marchegiani.
Having not found any smoke or fire in Rosslyn, Arlington firefighters are currently scaling back their initially large response. However, Arlington police remain on scene, assisting with crowd control.
Large crowds of commuters seeking alternate means of transportation have been reported outside the Rosslyn station and other Arlington stations along the Orange Line.
— JensueFerrell (@JensueFerrell) May 11, 2015
Outside Rosslyn Metro pic.twitter.com/o1S4DsuGSd
— Elizabeth Widas (@emt211) May 11, 2015
— Valerie Insinna (@ValerieInsinna) May 11, 2015
— Kymberly Escobar (@kymesco) May 11, 2015
— David Hawkins (@khnashi) May 11, 2015
— Ashley Pratte (@AshPratte) May 11, 2015
— Micah Himmel (@Micah_Himmel) May 11, 2015
Photo (top) via @WashingtonFlack
(Updated at 2:45 p.m.) One person died after a vehicle ran down an embankment on the GW Parkway early Saturday morning.
A technical rescue team from the Arlington County Fire Department responded to the single-vehicle crash.
The vehicle was located 100 feet down an embankment, with one person dead inside, according to a fire department spokesperson. No other injuries were reported.
The parkway remained closed between Spout Run and Route 123 for much of the morning while U.S. Park Police investigated the crash. Lanes reopened around 10:00 a.m., WTOP reported.
(Updated at 1:00 p.m.) Arlington County Fire Department personnel are on the scene of a house fire on the 1000 block of S. Rolfe Street.
The fire was reported at about 11:45 a.m., and when firefighters arrived on scene, fire could be seen from the outside of the house, according to the ACFD union on Twitter.
According to witnesses on scene, one person was in the house when the fire started. ACFD spokeswoman Lt. Sarah Marchegiani said the occupant was outside the house when fire crews arrived.
Witnesses said the fire started in the shed behind the house, but quickly spread, engulfing the rear of the house. The occupant said his garage was on fire when he called 911, Marchegiani said.
The house to the south also caught fire and suffered significant damage, while Marchegiani said the house to the north suffered minor exposure damage.
More than an hour after the fire caught, hot spots can still be seen catching, and ladder hoses are still working to extinguish all remaining flames.
Traffic on S. Rolfe Street is shut down from Columbia Pike past 11th Street S.
Smoke from the fire could be seen from miles around, and the smell of burning wood reached as far north as Ashton Heights.
(Updated at 11:10 p.m.) One lane of Chain Bridge was blocked during tonight’s evening rush hour due to a grim discovery near the bridge.
An apparent dead body was spotted by hikers about 150 yards north of the bridge this afternoon. The body is said to be located on the rocks, close to the Potomac River.
Arlington County firefighters responded to the scene, and the fire department’s technical rescue team rappelled down the cliffs to access the body. A D.C. fire boat and a U.S. Park Police helicopter also assisted in the recovery operation.
At about 6:40 p.m., a member of the Arlington County Police Department was rappelling down the cliff, with assistance of a technical rescue team member, to investigate the scene, a police source told ARLnow.com.
Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck confirmed a “large emergency response” at the scene, on the Virginia side of Chain Bridge, and said that crews are likely to remain on scene for an extended period of time.
One lane of the bridge was open in each direction at the accident scene, with heavy traffic reported on both the Virginia and D.C. sides of the bridge.
Photos viewed by ARLnow.com, taken from a distance, show that the victim was a light-skinned male. He appeared to be bleeding from the head and holding a dark object in his hand.
Members of the Arlington County Police Department, the Arlington County Fire Department, the county’s emergency operations staff and the Arlington Sheriff’s Office were honored today for their efforts and sacrifices while serving the county.
The Arlington Chamber of Commerce held its 33rd annual Valor Awards at the Officer’s Club at Joint Base Myer/Henderson Hall, giving awards for careers of service as well as individual, lifesaving efforts over the past 12 months.
The winners of the afternoon’s most prestigious award, the Valor Award, were ACFD Capt. Craig Brightbill and firefighter/EMTs John Hirte and Chad Aldridge, who were the first responders to the deadly house fire on S. Langley Street last March. Aldridge suffered respiratory and skin burns when he went in first to the house, which was rapidly engulfed in flames.
The three men were staffing Rescue 109, which is one of two apparatus in Arlington currently understaffed.
“Despite the fact that this fire resulted in two civilian casualties and an injured firefighter, the crew of Rescue 109 displayed dedication, courage and perseverance while facing extreme fire conditions, life safety hazards to trapped occupants and themselves, and the overwhelming stress conditions they were presented with,” their commendation, read by WJLA weather director and event master of ceremonies Doug Hill, said.
Among the other winners were Sheriff’s Office Cpls. Phyllis Henderson and Edwin Hill, who, along with Judge Thomas Kelley, saved a man in the Arlington County Courthouse from a heart attack in January; and ACPD K9 Cpl. Aaron Tingle, who helped prevent a rape and capture the suspect in Buckingham last November.
Retired ACPD Chief Doug Scott was also honored after 12 years at the helm of the county’s law enforcement.
“[Scott] will be missed and fondly remembered,” Chamber President/CEO Kate Roche said. “But we all know his legacy will live on in the great work of the Arlington County Police Department.”
Two people were rescued from a car dangling from a parking deck this afternoon after the driver crashed the vehicle through a metal fence.
The Arlington County Fire Department technical rescue team was dispatched to the parking lot of the Carlton Condominium, a high-rise building on the 4600 block of S. Four Mile Run Drive at about noon. The parking deck was one story up, and dozens of Arlington County firefighters and policeman responded to rescue the car’s occupants.
To ensure the car’s stability, a chain was hooked from the car’s undercarriage to rescue truck 104, and a large piece of wood was wedged underneath the car. According to firefighters at the scene, when they arrived the car was dangling and in danger of falling off the edge.
Firefighters had to saw through and remove the metal fencing next to the crash to have access to the passenger’s side door. Both the driver and the passenger were removed safely.
Police: Pair Stole Car, Shrimp, Underpants — (Updated at 2:00 p.m.) A man and a woman allegedly under the influence of crack cocaine and alcohol were arrested in Rosslyn Tuesday afternoon. Police say the pair had stolen a car, men’s underwear and a “large quantity of shrimp.” [MyFoxDC]
Playgroup Controversy in Fairlington — Members of a cooperative playgroup that uses the Fairlington Community Center say that Arlington County is attempting a “takeover of the group.” The parents say the county is trying to buy the playgroup’s toys, take over registration and raise the playgroup fee from $20 to $190. [Patch]
How One Teacher Is Using iPads — There’s some question about just how well Arlington Public Schools has trained its teachers on the use of technology in the classroom — particularly the individual iPads and MacBooks that are being assigned at certain grade levels. One teacher at Carlin Springs Elementary School, however, is taking advantage of the iPads in a big way, using them for various interactive lessons. That, officials say, is indicative of how such technology will increasingly be used in schools. [InsideNova]
ACFD Metro Training — Arlington firefighters are participating in department-wide Metro safety training this month. [Twitter]
Firefighters battled a house fire in the Leeway Overlee neighborhood last night.
The fire was reported just before 6:30 p.m., on the 2200 block of N. Nottingham Street. The blaze started in the home’s basement and spread to the first floor, but was quickly extinguished once firefighters arrived on scene, authorities said.
No injuries were reported. The county’s fire marshal is investigating the cause.
As part of its ongoing campaign for additional fire department funding, Arlington’s firefighters association pointed out via Twitter that
Truck Tower 104, which was second due on the call, is “understaffed with only 3 [firefighters].”
Photo courtesy Arlington County Fire Department
(Updated at 10:45 a.m.) A car slammed into the side of an Arlington bank on Saturday.
The incident happened before noon at the BB&T Bank (1100 S. Walter Reed Drive) near Columbia Pike.
No one was injured when the car rammed the bank, nearly running through a set of double doors, according to the local firefighter association Twitter account. No structural damage to the building was reported.
The crash was “a classic case of mistaking the gas pedal for the brake,” said Arlington County police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. The vehicle struck a parked car before crashing into the bank’s ATM vestibule.
The driver was charged with reckless driving, according to Sternbeck.
— Chief 288 (@Chief288) March 14, 2015
Photos (top) via @IAFF2800
Arlington’s fire stations have been understaffed for too long, Arlington’s fire union says, and after one of the deadliest years from house fires in some time, firefighters are pushing harder than ever for help.
In the past 12 months, five people in Arlington have died from three separate fires. After an early-morning fire in Douglas Park last June, two firefighters had to be sent to the hospital, and a fire in January might have been fatal had the residents of the house in the Old Glebe neighborhood not had an escape plan and working smoke detectors.
Rescue 109, a truck serving the Pentagon City and Columbia Pike area, that transports firefighters to emergency scenes, responded to most, if not all, of those fires. It, along with Tower 104 in the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor, has been operating with three staffers, one less than the national standard for safe operating.
“There is no doubt that without safe staffing levels on ACFD firetrucks, we will continue to see tragedies occur in Arlington County,” the Local 2800 says on its website.
Last year, Local 2800 issued a similar statement, asking for more staffing. At the time, the Arlington County Board had directed County Manager Barbara Donnellan to conduct a review of public safety staffing and incorporate recommendations into her FY 2016 budget. According to ACFD Chief Jim Schwartz, the study is still ongoing.
There are no new firefighters proposed in Donnellan’s FY 2016 budget. Turning Tower 104 and Rescue 109 into four-person trucks would require adding eight full-time equivalent positions, or $1.3 million, the Local 2800 says.
“The staffing study turned out to be a larger project than I think anyone envisioned,” Schwartz told ARLnow.com today. “I am the one who has been pushing the four-person staffing issue for many, many years. It has been a very, very high priority for us. We’ve been through tough budget times that has made it difficult to add fire staff.”
To try to cover the vacancies, the ACFD has applied for a federal Staffing for Adequate Fire & Emergency Response grant. The grant would pay for the positions for two full years, after which Schwartz says the County Board has pledged to assume the ongoing costs.
The ACFD last received a SAFER grant in 2007, and has been denied that last two times it applied. Schwartz said he feels the last two rejections “gives us a leg up this year,” considering the Federal Emergency Management Administration, which awards the grants, likes to “spread the money around.” Schwartz expects to receive a decision on the grant at the end of the summer.
The Local 2800 has been meeting with County Board members this week, proposing it adds between $500,000 and $600,000 to the FY 2016 budget to cover overtime costs and staff the two undermanned trucks.
“This is much cheaper than the 8 FTE option of $1.3 million because it would utilize existing employees and would not incur additional benefits or pension costs,” the Local 2800 leadership told ARLnow.com in a joint statement.
Schwartz said he does not support the Local 2800’s proposal, and added he is already concerned about the amount of overtime his firefighters have been working. The ACFD must have at least 73 people working at all times, and is already forced to keep firefighters for overtime beyond the 56 hours a week they each work.
“On more occasions that I am comfortable with, we have to hold someone on a mandatory basis because we cannot get someone voluntarily to fill the 73 [required on-duty positions],” he said. “I’m concerned about the effect [more overtime] would have on safety. I have great concern about the stress, and the effect extra hours has on performance.”
According to the fire union, the lack of sufficient fire personnel has already led to a hazardous situation. During last March’s house fire in Nauck, the Local 2800 says “a firefighter assigned to Rescue 109 attempted a heroic rescue of two civilians trapped on the second floor of a house fire. While searching for the trapped residents, the firefighter suffered major burns to his body and respiratory tract, requiring a multiple day stay at the Washington Hospital Burn Unit and several months away from work recovering.
“In this situation, only having three firefighters created a difficult, if not impossible task to effect the rescue of the two trapped civilians,” the union leadership continued. “Additionally, had the burned firefighter not been able to self-extricate the house via a ladder, only one other member of Rescue 109 was available to help get him out.”
Schwartz denied that the lack of staffing was to blame for the two deaths in Nauck, saying “I would argue any suggestion that a fourth person on that company would have in any way changed the outcome either to the victims or the firefighter.”
On top of the two understaffed trucks, Schwartz told ARLnow.com ACFD currently has 14 vacancies, from retirements and firefighters leaving the department, that it is looking to fill in the near future.
Photo, top, via @IAFF2800
Three people were hurt when a staircase collapsed, sending them plummeting into a 10 foot hole.
The incident happened around 6:45 p.m., outside a home on the 900 block of N. Madison Street, in the Dominion Hills neighborhood.
Three people — two adults and one child — suffered non-life-threatening injuries when the concrete staircase in front of the home collapsed under their feet and they fell into the hole. The Arlington County Fire Department technical rescue team extricated the victims and the two adults were transported to a local hospital.
Fox 5 has additional photos of the incident. The station reported that the victims were carrying groceries at the time of the collapse.
Peter Chang Fast Casual Restaurant in Arlington — Chef Peter Chang, who has a large following in Northern Virginia, is in lease negotiations for the Oriental Gourmet space at 2503 N. Harrison Street. Chang hopes to open Peter Chang Wok, envisioned as a fast casual Chinese restaurant. Chang only plans to make “a few cosmetic changes” to Oriental Gourmet, which is still open, after taking over the lease. [Washington Post]
Cherrydale Plan Passes — Cherrydale has a new Neighborhood Conservation plan. The plan, approved by the County Board on Tuesday, calls for protecting trees, ensuring sidewalks are wide enough for strollers and those with disabilities, timely utility maintenance, more daycare opportunities and infrastructure for residents to age in place. [Arlington County]
Top County Staff Gets Raise — The Arlington County Board on Tuesday voted to give a 3.4 percent raise to the three county employees it’s permitted by law to hire directly: County Manager Barbara Donnellan, County Attorney Stephen MacIsaac and Clerk to the County Board Hope Halleck. The annual salary for Donnellan — who’s in charge of the county government and its more than 3,800 employees — will increase to $269,742. [InsideNova]
Abundance of Busted Pipes — This week Arlington County firefighters have responded to a steady stream of calls for busted water pipes in buildings around the county. “Please make sure you know where your water shut off is in case it happens to you,” the fire department tweeted. [Twitter]
Abingdon Street House Fire — Firefighters extinguished a small fire in the basement of a home on the 100 block of N. Abingdon Street on Wednesday morning. One person had to flee the home, reportedly while only wearing shorts and a t-shirt, but no injuries were reported. [Twitter]
Court Ruling May Cost Arlington Millions — A ruling by the Virginia Supreme Court on a tax dispute in Arlington County may cost Arlington and other Virginia localities millions of dollars in lost business license tax revenue. The court ruled that companies with offices in multiple states may deduct certain out-of-state earnings from their license tax. [Washington Post]
GW Baseball Blanks Georgetown — In a chilly game at Arlington’s Barcroft Park that we previewed Wednesday, the George Washington University baseball team defeated Georgetown in a 3-0 shutout. [GW Sports]
Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick
(Updated at 10:35 a.m.) Arlington County medics, firefighters and the hazmat team are on the scene of a Clarendon apartment building for a potential case of Ebola.
The call came in just after 9:30 this morning, for a possible Ebola patient in the new Beacon at Clarendon apartment building at 1128 N. Irving Street. According to ACFD spokeswoman Lt. Sarah Marchegiani, the department dispatches an Ebola response out of an abundance of caution when a sick person has a travel history and symptoms consistent with a case of the deadly virus.
“While it’s unlikely it’s Ebola, the fire department and the responding hospital are taking all appropriate precautions,” Marchegiani told ARLnow.com.
As of 10:30 a.m., the patient had been transported to Virginia Hospital Center. No definitive diagnosis has been made at this point. Building management declined to comment.
N. Irving Street is blocked between Washington Blvd and 13th Street, according to scanner traffic, but as of 10:30 fire department units were starting to clear the scene.
The last and only other reported instance of a suspected Ebola case in Arlington happened at the Pentagon on Oct. 17. In that case, the patient was found to have made false statements about her travel history — she did not have Ebola.
Update at 5:40 p.m. — In a press release, Arlington County says that the patient most likely does not have Ebola.
Arlington County Fire Department this morning transported a person with fever and a history of recent travel from an Ebola-affected area to the Virginia Hospital Center (VHC) for evaluation. The person had no known exposure to any Ebola cases, and medical findings are not consistent with a diagnosis of Ebola. The person was being monitored by Arlington County Public Health Department (ACPHD) officials under the statewide Virginia Department of Health Arriving Passenger Monitoring Program.
ACPHD will continue to monitor this person, as well as other travelers in the monitoring program, through their entire possible incubation period (21 days). People in the travel monitoring program will continue to be instructed to call 9-1-1 if they are medically unstable or if they do not have private transport. If EMS staff respond, they will wear appropriate personal protective equipment before transporting the person with symptoms.
Arlington County Public Health and Virginia Hospital Center are working together — in collaboration with the Virginia Department of Health — and followed the recommended course of action for such cases. There is no cause for public concern.
Hospital staff and first responders are highly trained to take appropriate precautions for all high-risk patients, routinely drilling and preparing for just such situations. The health and well-being of the community are a primary concern for both the County and VHC, and we want to reassure everyone that the hospital environment is safe for all patients.
To learn more about the Ebola virus, visit the County website, where you can also get answers to frequently asked questions about Ebola. You can also call the Virginia Department of Health’s Ebola Call Center at 877-ASK-VDH3 (877-275-8343).
For the third time in a week, Arlington County firefighters are responding to the Rosslyn Metro station for a report of smoke in the tunnel between Rosslyn and Foggy Bottom.
D.C. firefighters are also responding to the Foggy Bottom station.