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Fire at Berkeley Apartments

by ARLnow.com December 13, 2011 at 12:13 pm 8,541 46 Comments

(Updated at 1:45 p.m.) A fire broke out at the Berkeley Apartments building at 2900 S. Glebe Road this morning.

Flames and heavy smoke were spotted coming from a second-floor apartment just after 11:30 a.m. Firefighters from Arlington, Alexandria and Fairfax responded and were able to extinguish the flames within minutes, said Arlington County Fire Department spokesman Lt. Gregg Karl.

No injuries were reported. S. Glebe Road was blocked for about two hours during and after the fire. The apartment building is just across from the Arlington Ridge Shopping Center.

Photo (top) courtesy Lt. Gregg Karl/ACFD

  • OX4

    Amazing. Firefighters do some incredible work.

    • CrystalMikey

      True statement.

    • +1000000000

  • Autoexec.bat

    Just drove by. Glebe Rd. is back open again.

  • alena

    i feel so bad

  • Josh S

    Wow. I hope they had renter’s insurance. And the people in the apartments above, too, whose stuff must be just reeking from smoke.

    Good on the firefighters for getting there so quickly and putting it out so quickly.

    What’s almost (not really) as amazing is how ARLNow got such good pictures even while the flames were still blazing away.

    • The Dope of South Arlington

      I suspect renter’s insurance is not at the top of the list for the demographic in that building.

      • CW

        What a stupid, elitist comment.

        • The Dope of South Arlington

          Nonetheless, mostly likely true.

          • I Was There


        • mickey644

          Another Obamist blinded by the facts! finger in ears, eyes closed, na na na na na na na Elitist comment, I don’t think so.

      • OX4

        what is that supposed to mean? Latinos don’t have renter’s insurance?

        • CW

          I just thought that was a needlessly mean thing to say. I guess it was the whole “making insulting generalizations about someone after their house just burned” part.

          The cutoff for a single person to live there is $43,000 a year. Renter’s insurance is about $100 annually.

          • OX4

            CW, I completely agree with you. Dope’s comment was totally uncalled for.

      • charlie

        Dope: thanks for validating your name.

        the issue here is how contained this fire is — I bet the Avalon project up the street would burn down under similar circumstances. Old construction rocks.

        • The Dope of South Arlington

          I’m not making light of what happened to the victims of the fire. I’m just stating the obvious…when you’re near the bottom rungs of the economic ladder, insurance is not a priority, no matter how cheap some yuppie thinks it is.

          • CW

            Ironic that you are implying that I am a yuppie who is out of touch with the personal economic capacities of some people while, out of the other side of your mouth, you state that someone making $43,000 a year (cutoff for one occupant) is “near the bottom rungs of the economic ladder”. There are a lot of people in this country that would call you a lot of very mean things for making that statement.

          • charlie

            i don’t know if your comments are elitist liberal intellectual thinking or conservative elitists boot-straps thinking.
            regardless it is offensive to assume they don’t have insurance.
            i’d be willing to say that the majority of the punk douche bag kids in Clarendon also don’t have it.

          • The Dope of South Arlington

            And I would agree. So what?

          • Josh S

            I think the takeaway here is that certain things are just better left unsaid. Even on an anonymous internet discussion thread.

            Discretion and tact seem to be dying out.


    true that

  • Arlington Native

    What an awful sight…I feel bad for the people living in and around that burning apartment.

  • Runaway Train

    This building has been plagued with bed bugs, now a fire. These poor residents can’t catch a break.

    • D’oh

      The silver lining is that maybe the fire killed the bedbugs…

  • MC

    Wow, that’s a vicious fire — the building doesn’t look that old, so wonder if/why sprinklers didn’t stop the fire. Also wonder about the safety of the many multi-story, multi-family buildings being built out of plywood these days. A Fire like that would total such a building.

    • charlie

      yep. that building has solid concrete floors and cinder block walls. todays buildings have three inches of particle board — while meeting code for fire retardation it won’t work at those temperatures.

    • Josh S

      Sprinklers? What sprinklers? I think older buildings do not need to have them.

  • Village Geniue

    I am curious why fire departments do not immediately have at least one hose (even a small 2″ hose) on the flames. This is not a criticism of this particular fire. However, in general fire fighters take a lot of time to set up and some are searching for possible trapped people, but rarely do new photos (or TV news) show fire crews using water immediately after arrival. (You Tube videos show similar activity.) Here, there is a photo showing 5 fire fighters moving a ladder, flames billowing out a window, but not a single hose spraying water on to the flames.

    If anyone has some knowledge, rather than random comments or ill-informed rants, it might be enlightening to know.

    • Village Genius

      Previous message was from me, the Village Genius.

    • Village Idiot

      Firefighting is done from the inside out, if possible. Sometimes the entire building (usually large industrial or wood frame) is a complete write off from the start. Otherwise, hoselines are brought inside from the stairways and the fire, heat, and smoke are pushed outside of the windows from the doorway to minimize extension into the building and increase a victims chance of survival. While the line is being moved in from the apartment door, another crew makes a search for victims. It’s a well organized operation and other then the jack plates missing, there really is nothing else to butcher about this incident. Good stop by ACFD. Way to be aggressive.

    • infofoyou

      haha a small 2” line, haha i want to see you handle a small 2” line. other then the 4” we hook to the hydrants with, 2 1/2” is the largest we have and it is a beast. also, while firefighter are inside the fire apartment, we do not spray water from outside, it would puch all the heat and smoke back in on them. there are things called fire tactict that we follow, and thats why you see the same thing on all the tv shows and news shows. I understand that you dont understand why the firefighters do what they do, but just leave it to them, there the pros!

    • Howard

      Why dont you go visit your local fire department and I am sure they would be more than glad to explain the details of this particular fire…..I personally served with Arlington FD fo 28 years……

      • Josh S

        Gosh, it seemed like an innocent question to me…..

        Interesting that despite all the BS that people posted criticizing the police about the bank robberies I don’t recall a single police officer getting on and responding.

        • Just the Facts

          Well, for one, a wayward comment by a police officer could inadvertently tip off a suspect about efforts to stop/catch him or hurt a criminal prosecution. In the FD’s case, I’ve never heard of fire taking advantage of knowing their tactics….

  • mike lynn

    Where do I start. No jack plates under the jacks, no wheel chocks, parked to close to scrub the lower floors, ground ladders not placed in the important windows, one is placed to the top of a window? Are these volunteers? I would have to say Village Geniue has a better idea of what is going on than these guys do. Not a sermon just a thought.

    • turn it down a notch

      You obviously have some knowledge about firefighting, proven by your vernacular, so I’ll give you that. Since you are obvious experienced in the subject matter, you know good and well that this snap shot in time is not enough evidence for you to completely write off ACFD’s tactics… We don’t know how early in the fire this photo was taken, or if the truck did or didn’t have other positioning options. The jack plates… I’ll give you. Quarterbacking it from your computer chair is easy and tempting. But in the heat of it, the job got done. I know a lot of current ACFD firefighters and know that they are true professionals who get the job done.

    • Village Idiot

      If you’re a firefighter and feel the need to monday morning quarterback this incident from a few still photos and the comfort of your computer, please do so on Statter911 or “the watch desk”. Ground ladders look just fine for means of egress, just below the windows of the fire apartment. Jack plates and wheel chocks, sure, but easy to overlook when your dealt with a big workload like that and a very tight fire lane to position in. It’s a wonder they were even able to get that close without a contractor van or a delivery truck parked out front.

  • some knowledge

    Village Genius- FIrefighting is a complex, well choreographed chaotic task. The firefighters you see in front of that building are doing exactly what they are suppose to do. The guys with the hoses and water are inside that building, most likely trying to force there way into the affected apartment. Water isn’t sprayed on fires from the outside (usually) so very rarely would you ever see a photo from the outside of the building where suppression is being done. How fire is fought (especially in arlington) is a tried and true practice that has been working effectively for decades.

  • Village Genius

    An update: I stopped in to see the nice man down the street who greets me with “get off my grass you [donkey]” — I will call him Mr. Wiki to protect his identity.

    Why no water immediately for building fires? It’s complicated but in a nutshell, too little water is more of a problem than no water. Fire is not the biggest problem, but heat is. Water (and water vapor) will cool down the fire, but too little water may cause hot steam which is dangerous for firefighters and could also force bad hot gases to move to unfavorable locations. Paraphrasing Mr. Wiki: Think hot steam over a boiling pot of water (only 212 degrees) is dangerous, but sticking your arm in a hot oven is not as dangerous. Thus steam is bad and too little water too soon can cause steam rather than cooling of hot gases.

    Tomorrow, I am changing the batteries in my smoke detectors.

  • Isa.h

    Who cares about these pictures!!!!! No one got hurt and I’m thankful that nothing got damaged! The people who lived there in the other hand, I wish them the best! It’s so sad!!!!

  • Derek Spector

    @ Mike Lynn. Nice observation from your arm chair. Now let’s see if you’re ready for some facts. Fact #1 – The driver of the ladder truck is a veteran of the department. This isn’t his first rodeo driving or operating this rig. So to defend his actions, being that you decided to take the low road and add your 2 cents. To obtain the right amount of scrub area, he would have position on Glebe Rd. and compete with the row of trees that line Glebe Rd to reach those all important lower windows. If you look, the outriggers are on black top which during the cold weather months are as hard as concrete. So nice text book observations. Fact #2 – THE WORLD ISN’T FLAT!!! Proper climbing angles and placement are a luxury when the ground is flat and manpower is available. Fact #3 the truck crews from #5 know their craft and work on their craft every day along with the crews from # 4 and 6. So nice insight you’ve provided to all us, we are indebted to your knowledge.

    • acfd139

      Luv U, Spector

  • Just the Facts

    Now THAT’S a fire!

    Nice work, ACFD! Thank you for running in to burning buildings to protect me and my fellow citizens.

  • Concerned Berkly mom

    Thank you ACFD for assisting in a timely manner have a child that live across from damaged apt and although she couldnt see down the hall to get to stairwell wich is right beside her door she got out. Fire does spread quick and thanks for catching it on time .

  • Spector Gadget

    A veteran truck driver should know where to park and how to
    do truck work. What a joke.

  • Hookman



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