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Photo: Cat Rescued from Early Morning Fire

by ARLnow.com | March 26, 2014 at 2:35 pm | 2,425 views | No Comments

A cat was rescued from a townhouse fire Wednesday morning (Photo courtesy ACFD)Arlington County firefighters rescued a cat from a townhouse fire early this morning.

Firefighters were called to a home on the 4400 block of Pershing Court in the Barcroft neighborhood around 4:45 this morning for reports of a fire. Units arrived six minutes later and found flames coming out of a front window on the top floor, according to Arlington County Fire Department spokeswoman Lt. Sarah-Maria Marchegiani.

The blaze was quickly extinguished but firefighters found a cat inside the home in “respiratory distress,” Marchegiani said. The cat, which was foaming at the mouth as a result of smoke inhalation, was brought outside and given oxygen. It was then transported to an animal hospital — the VCA SouthPaws Veterinary Specialists & Emergency Center on Route 50 — where it is now listed in stable condition.

There were no human injuries as a result of the fire. The blaze caused about $50,000 in damage.

Investigators are still trying to determine the cause of the fire, which started in an upstairs bedroom, according to Marchegiani. Other than the cat, the home was unoccupied — its residents were on vacation at the time.

Photo courtesy ACFD

BREAKING: ACFD Battles Two-Alarm Fire in Falls Church

by ARLnow.com | March 21, 2014 at 1:20 pm | 5,509 views | No Comments

(Updated at 3:10 p.m.) Firefighters from Arlington and Fairfax counties battled a two-alarm fire in the central business district of Falls Church.

Units on scene reported flames coming from a 5-story office building at 150 S. Washington Street. Falls Church Police Department spokeswoman Amy Betor said it took firefighters “about 30 minutes to extinguish.” Scanner traffic reported there were initial problems with water pressure at the scene.

There were no injuries reported, despite the office building being occupied at the time.

The fire appears to have started from an electrical room on the second floor, Betor said. A web search revealed real estate company Redfin has an office in Suite 200 of the building, but those on scene couldn’t confirm which company’s office the fire started in.

Randy Karn works on the third floor of the building, and said he started smelling “something electrical burning” about 10 minutes before the fire alarm went off. 

“I went out into the office and after about 60 seconds it was filled with smoke,” Karn told ARLnow.com as he was standing outside the building. “It was time to go. I left my wallet, I left my keys, I left my laptop and got out of there.”

Arlington County provides firefighting services to the City of Falls Church under contract. Karn said he estimated the firefighters took between 10 and 15 minutes to arrive. The fire “had a hell of a time getting going,” building slowly, but flames were already showing out of the window by the time firefighters arrived on scene.

Electrical Fire at Washington-Lee HS

by ARLnow.com | March 14, 2014 at 11:00 am | 1,304 views | No Comments

Water damage from a small fire at Washington-Lee HS (photo courtesy @RobertoClaure)Washington-Lee High School was evacuated this morning due to a small electrical fire.

The fire broke out near the attendance office, according to Arlington Public Schools spokeswoman Linda Erdos. It was quickly extinguished, but not before the school’s sprinklers caused some flooding in the hallway.

Students and school personnel were evacuated for about 15-20 chilly minutes. They reentered the school when the fire department gave the all-clear.

“Everyone is okay and the students and staff did a great job responding to the alarm in the way that we have practiced,” Washington-Lee principal Gregg Robertson said in an email to parents. “The APS facilities team are here to help with the clean up. We are thankful for the support of our county agencies.”

Photo courtesy @RobertoClaure

Weekend Fire at Yorktown High School

by ARLnow.com | February 24, 2014 at 10:00 am | 2,444 views | No Comments

Fire at Yorktown High School (photo courtesy S. Stein)A fire at Yorktown High School caused minor damage to the school’s band room.

The fire broke out just before 9:00 a.m. Saturday in an HVAC unit on the roof of the school. Firefighters from several jurisdictions responded and helped to extinguish the blaze. The HVAC system was damaged and water from the firefighting effort flooded into the school’s band room, below.

“There was just water damage to the band room,” said Arlington Public Schools spokesman Frank Bellavia. “Crews were able to dry the carpet over the weekend.”

“The fire has not impacted any classes or extracurricular activities at the school,” Bellavia said.

Photo courtesy S. Stein

UPDATED: Apartment Fire Near Rosslyn Started By Hot Embers

by ARLnow.com | January 21, 2014 at 6:45 pm | 3,850 views | No Comments

Arlington County firefighters responded to an apartment fire near Rosslyn Tuesday night.

Units on the scene reported flames coming from a third story apartment at the Rosslyn Heights apartment building on the 1800 block of N. Quinn Street.

A fire on the exterior balcony had extended to the interior of an apartment, according to the fire department Twitter account. The fire was quickly extinguished and no injuries were reported.

The residents of three apartments were displaced due to fire, smoke and water damage.

Update at 4:15 p.m. on 1/22/14 — In a press release, the Arlington County Fire Dept. says this fire started due to improper disposal of hot embers.

Last night, Arlington firefighters responded to a fire that started on the balcony and quickly spread to the inside of the apartment. Fortunately, no one was injured and the fire was reported early, keeping damage to an estimated $20,000. The fire was caused when occupants extinguished a fire in their fireplace with water and placed the logs outside on the deck. The occupants knew that it was dangerous to leave a fireplace unattended, but did not know how to properly dispose of hot ashes and embers.

It is a common misconception that the ashes are safe once the fire is extinguished; however, ashes and embers can smolder for hours. Ashes must be disposed of properly to prevent these types of fires from occurring. Once the fire is extinguished, place the ashes in a metal container with a lid. Never place ashes directly into a trash can or paper bag. Move the metal container outside and away from all combustibles, including decks, garages, and leaves. Soak the ashes with water and re-cover.

The Arlington County Fire Department recommends you follow these safety tips when using a fireplace:

  • Have your chimney cleaned and inspected annually by a qualified professional.
  • Always use a metal or heat-tempered glass screen to prevent sparks from flying into the room.
  • Use only newspaper and kindling wood or fire starters to start a fire, never use flammable liquids to start a fire.
  • Only burn dry, seasoned wood.
  • Never leave the fireplace unattended.
  • Allow ashes to cool completely before disposing.
  • Place ashes in a metal container with a lid. Move the container at least 10 feet from the building and saturate the ashes with water.

More information at http://www.usfa.fema.gov/citizens/home_fire_prev/heating/fireplace.shtm

Photo courtesy @hilary1121

Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com | January 15, 2014 at 8:30 am | 1,853 views | No Comments

Dense fog in Shirlington (photo courtesy @SBDSLLC)

Church to Drop K-8 School – St. Charles Borromeo Church, near Clarendon, has announced that it will be closing its private K-8 school after this school year due to low enrollment. Only 117 students are currently enrolled at the school, about half of its capacity. “No Catholic school can survive with such low numbers,” said the church’s pastor, in a letter to parents. The church will retain its popular preschool program. [Arlington Catholic Herald]

Surge in Students With Food Allergies — Statistics from Arlington Public Schools shows that the number of students with reported food allergies has nearly doubled since the 2008-09 school year. About 1,150 students, or 5 percent of the student body, have reported food allergies to the school system. [Sun Gazette]

The Fire That Almost Destroyed Rosslyn — In 1925, a gasoline-fueled fire nearly destroyed all of Rosslyn. Firefighters trying to extinguish the blaze narrowly escaped harm when they leaped from a gasoline tank just before it exploded. [Ghosts of DC]

State Appointment for Retired Arlington Cop — Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe (D), who was sworn in over the weekend, has appointed Tonya Vincent as Deputy Secretary of Public Safety. Vincent served 22 years with the Arlington County Police Department, where she retired as a captain.

Photo courtesy @SBDSLLC

Fire Causes Cherrydale Restaurants to Close

by Ethan Rothstein | January 13, 2014 at 5:00 pm | 2,147 views | No Comments

A dryer fire early this morning has caused Cherrydale eateries Billy’s Cheesesteaks and Pasha Cafe to close indefinitely.

The fire was called in to dispatch at 2:18 a.m., according to Arlington County Fire Department spokeswoman Lt. Sarah Marchegiani, who said she couldn’t specify how long it took the firefighters to extinguish the blaze.

The fire originated from a dryer in the back of Billy’s Cheesesteaks (3907 Lee Highway), according to Marchegiani, and fire marshals estimate it did approximately $10,000 worth of damage to the restaurant. Pasha Cafe, which is just next door and has the same owner, suffered some smoke damage. The buildings were unoccupied and no one was injured in the fire.

A manager at Pasha told ARLnow.com that Pasha should reopen “very soon,” but admitted he didn’t know how long it would Billy’s Cheesesteaks to reopen. Billy’s had been cleared of most of the debris but soot still covers the walls and many surfaces.

BREAKING: Fire at Columbia Pike Days Inn

by ARLnow.com | January 13, 2014 at 11:40 am | 2,301 views | No Comments

(Updated at 12:15 p.m.) Firefighters from several jurisdictions responded to a fire at the Days Inn on Columbia Pike this morning.

The fire started in an unoccupied room on the second floor of the motel, according to the Arlington County Fire Department spokeswoman Lt. Sarah Marchegiani. The blaze was quickly extinguished and no injuries were reported.

According to Marchegiani, the fire department received the first call about the fire at 11:36 a.m. and the bulk of the fire was extinguished by 11:42 a.m. Firefighters are now packing up their equipment and the county fire marshal is investigating the incident.

Earlier, flames and smoke could be seen from the motel, located at 3030 Columbia Pike. Early video of the incident shows a significant amount of smoke coming from the structure.

For a period of time the eastbound lanes of Columbia Pike were blocked in the area of the motel. The lanes have since reopened.

Photo courtesy @OwenHassig

ACFD: Oxygen Tanks Helped Fuel Apartment Fire

by ARLnow.com | January 6, 2014 at 1:00 pm | 749 views | No Comments

Apartment fire on S. Greenbrier Street (photo courtesy @itsjustmejona)Home oxygen tanks helped fuel Sunday morning’s three-alarm apartment fire near Columbia Pike, the Arlington County Fire Department said today.

The fire broke out around 9:15 a.m. in an apartment at 850 S. Greenbrier Street. Firefighters from Arlington and Fairfax County arrived minutes after a 911 call was placed, and found heavy smoke coming from a second-floor apartment.

Firefighters rescued 20 trapped residents using ladders, and rescued an unconscious man from a smoke-filled hallway. He was transported to Medstar Washington Hospital Center in critical condition, ACFD said.

More than 80 fire personnel helped to extinguish the flames, which extended to the third and fourth floors and caused some $50,000 worth of damage. Arlington’s Office of Emergency Management set up a temporary shelter for 120 displaced residents in the nearby Greenbrier Baptist Church. The American Red Cross also helped to provide food, water and other essentials.

The cause is still under investigation, but the fire department says medical oxygen tanks “contribute[d] to the rapid fire spread.”

Photo courtesy @itsjustmejona

Several Rescued During Three-Alarm Apartment Fire

by ARLnow.com | January 5, 2014 at 2:30 pm | 3,327 views | No Comments

(Updated at 3:35 p.m.) One person is in serious condition after a three-alarm apartment fire on Columbia Pike this morning.

The fire broke out just before 9:30 a.m. at 850 S. Greenbrier Street, a seven-story brick apartment building near Columbia Pike. The fire broke out in a second story apartment , then extended to the third floor, according to Arlington County Fire Department spokesman Capt. Bill Shelton.

Several people were rescued by firefighters using ladders, while several others jumped from their second and third-floor apartments. One person was rescued and transported to Washington Hospital Center with life-threatening smoke inhalation injuries. Three others were transported to the hospital for non-fire-related medical conditions.

Residents of the apartment building are being sheltered in a nearby church and another apartment building, according to Shelton. All residents but those on the second floor and in two fire-damaged apartments are expected to be allowed back later tonight. They were originally expected to be allowed back around 4:00 but “plumbing issues” forced a delay.

Jonathan, a Twitter user contacted by ARLnow.com, said he and his family were in a third floor apartment and were among those who had to jump.

“I woke up to the fire alarm, didn’t think it was nothing then I heard an explosion and my people where telling us to get out,” he said via Twitter. “I opened the door to check and it was filled with smoke we had to jump out of the window.”

Jonathan said he, his mother, father, and brother all jumped out the window, taking their pet bird with them. For now they’re staying at a friend’s house.

Shelton said oxygen tanks were found in the second floor apartment where the fire started. Raime, another Twitter user, said the fire started in his mother’s apartment.

“My mom tried to plug her phone in the wall to charge it and it sparked a fire and she had oxygen tanks in the room and they exploded,” he said. So far fire officials have not been able to confirm his account.

Photos courtesy @itsjustmejona

Bangkok 54 Fire Shuts Down Market, But Not Restaurant

by ARLnow.com | December 12, 2013 at 4:30 pm | 1,555 views | No Comments

Fire at Bangkok 54 on 12/12/13Bangkok 54 restaurant (2919 Columbia Pike) was open for lunch and is now open for dinner today (Thursday) as usual, despite a fire that ripped through the business’ next-door market early this morning.

We’re told the Thai restaurant only suffered minor smoke damage as a result of the fire, which caused significant damage to the market. The heaviest damage was in the ceiling of the market, according to Arlington County Fire Department spokesman Capt. Bill Shelton.

Fire investigators are still on the scene, trying to determine the cause of the fire. So far, there’s no estimate of the cost of the damage.

BREAKING: Fire at Bangkok 54

by ARLnow.com | December 12, 2013 at 12:15 am | 5,938 views | No Comments

Update at 4:30 p.m. — The restaurant portion of Bangkok 54 was open for business today.

Arlington County firefighters battled a two-alarm fire at Bangkok 54 on Columbia Pike early Thursday morning.

The Thai restaurant is located at 2919 Columbia Pike, next to the Arlington Cinema and Drafthouse. The fire appeared to be in the Asian market portion of the business, not the restaurant itself. However, it’s likely that smoke from the blaze spread throughout the business.

The emergency response to the fire shut down Columbia Pike in both directions for about an hour and a half.

ACFD Reminder: Cook Safely on Thanksgiving

by Katie Pyzyk | November 26, 2013 at 11:00 am | 312 views | No Comments

Arlington County Fire Department BadgeThe Arlington County Fire Department is reminding residents to be cautious while cooking up a holiday feast this week, considering Thanksgiving is the busiest day for home cooking fires.

ACFD encourages cooks to stay alert while in the kitchen because the leading cause of cooking fires is leaving equipment unattended. The department also discourages the use of outdoor gas fueled turkey fryers due to fire and burn hazards when hot oil splashes during the cooking process.

The department recommends adhering to the following safety tips from the U.S. Fire Administration:

  • Stay in the kitchen when cooking and turn off the stove if you leave the kitchen, even for a short period of time. Check on food regularly to make sure it is not burning.
  • Use a timer to remind you that you’re cooking.
  • Stay alert. You won’t be alert if you have been drinking alcohol or have taken medicine that makes you drowsy.
  • Keep all flammable items — such as potholders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper or plastic bags, food packaging, towels, or curtains — away from your stovetop.
  • Keep the stovetop, burners and oven clean.
  • Wear short, close-fitting or tightly rolled sleeves when cooking. Loose clothing can dangle onto stove burners and catch fire if it comes into contact with a gas flame or electric burner.
  • Plug microwave ovens and other cooking appliances directly into an outlet. Never use an extension cord for a cooking appliance, as it can overload the circuit and cause a fire.

There are also safety tips specifically for using turkey fryers:

  • Use turkey fryers outdoors a safe distance from buildings and any other combustible materials.
  • Never use turkey fryers in a garage or on a wooden deck.
  • Make sure fryers are used on a flat surface to reduce accidental tipping.
  • Never leave the fryer unattended. Most units do not have thermostat controls. If you do not watch the fryer carefully, the oil will continue to heat until it catches fire.
  • Never let children or pets near the fryer even if it is not in use. The oil inside the cooking pot can remain dangerously hot for hours after use.
  • To avoid oil spillover, do not overfill the fryer.
  • Use well-insulated potholders or oven mitts when touching pot or lid handles. If possible, wear safety goggles to protect your eyes from oil splatter.
  • Make sure the turkey is completely thawed and be careful with marinades. Oil and water do not mix; water causes oil to spill over and cause a fire or even an explosion hazard.
  • Keep an all-purpose fire extinguisher nearby. Never use water to extinguish a grease fire. If the fire grows too large, immediately call the fire department for help.

Follow these tips if a fire does break out:

  • When in doubt, just get out. When you leave, close the door behind you to help contain the fire. Call 911 after you leave.
  • If you do try to fight the fire, be sure others are already getting out and you have a clear path to the exit.
  • Always keep an oven mitt and a lid nearby when you are cooking. If a small grease fire starts in a pan, smother the flames by carefully sliding the lid over the pan (make sure you are wearing the oven mitt). Turn off the burner. Do not move the pan. To keep the fire from restarting, leave the lid on until the pan is completely cool.
  • In case of an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed to prevent flames from burning you or your clothing.
  • If you have a fire in your microwave oven, turn it off immediately and keep the door closed. Never open the door until the fire is completely out. Unplug the appliance if you can safely reach the outlet.
  • After a fire, both ovens and microwaves should be checked and/or serviced before being used again.

Small Fire at Portofino Restaurant

by Katie Pyzyk | November 21, 2013 at 10:30 am | 780 views | No Comments

Portofino restaurant in Crystal City (photo via Google Maps)Update at 12:00 p.m. — Portofino has informed ARLnow.com that an inspector gave the all clear, and the restaurant has opened for business.

Firefighters spent part of the morning dealing with a small fire at Portofino restaurant (526 23rd Street S.) in Crystal City.

According to Arlington County Fire Department spokeswoman Lt. Sarah Marchegiani, firefighters found a dryer fire in the basement of the building. They were able to extinguish those flames quickly with a water can fire extinguisher, as well as some flames that had spread to the area behind the dryer. Crews remained on the scene for a while to ventilate the smoke that had seeped throughout the building.

There were some people cooking inside the building when the fire broke out, but nobody was hurt.

Although a fire marshal was still on scene conducting an investigation as of 10:30 a.m., the fire is not expected to affect Portofino’s business and it will be open as usual.

Photo via Google Maps

Apartment Fire in Columbia Heights West

by ARLnow.com | October 9, 2013 at 2:50 pm | 515 views | No Comments

Arlington County fire truck(Updated at 2:55 p.m.) Arlington firefighters are on the scene of a reported kitchen fire in the Columbia Heights West neighborhood.

The fire broke out around 2:30 p.m. in an apartment on the 700 block of S. Florida Street. According to initial reports, the fire started on the stove of one of the apartments and spread to the cabinets.

Firefighters have managed to extinguish the flames. No injuries have been reported.

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