Apartment Fire on Columbia Pike

by Katie Pyzyk July 11, 2012 at 10:20 am 4,716 33 Comments

(Updated at 10:45 a.m.) Firefighters are leaving an apartment building on the 1900 block of Columbia Pike, where they responded to a fire earlier.

Arlington and Fairfax County units fought the small blaze, at the Archstone Columbia Crossing apartments. According to Capt. Gregg Karl, the fire started in a second floor utility closet and spread to an apartment.

There is some water damage on the first and second floors, but there’s no estimate yet on the cost of that damage. There were no reports of injuries.

Right now, investigators are trying to determine exactly what started the fire.


  • BreakPause02

    Not sure if this is a wood framed apartment building, but I am not a fan of the large wood framed buildings that I see being built around here and all over the country. Especially now that they are being built taller than the typical 2-3 story garden building.

    • JohnE

      What do you have against them?

      • Westover

        When they are not burning the sound travels from one apartment to the rest of the building, when they are burning they can easily burn from one apartment to the rest of the complex.

        • JohnB

          Unless of course you have a sprinkler system and a fire department.

        • Columbia Crossing Resident

          I agree. This is the second “small fire” we have had in a little over two years. Even with a sprinkler system, the last one caused significant damage to 4 apartments.

        • JB

          I’ll give you the sound issue maybe, but in this day and age it’s not like you can just throw up a fire trap and be up to code. Wood or not, apartments are constructed with fire barriers, sprinkler systems, etc. to minimize the potential for the fire to spread to other units before the fire department can get there.

          • SArl

            That’s if the 911 system is working when you need it.

          • daniel

            entire Verizon system…

        • JohnE

          There’s not much you can do economically to reduce sound transmission between units. In fact, wood stud walls with drywall are going to mitigate sound better than metal stud walls with drywall. You can go with multiple layers of drywall, doubled studs, even concrete block. But then you’ve engineered yourself out of a load-bearing wood frame.

          As for fire concerns, the codes offer quite a bit of protection. Most importantly, the requirements for fire sprinkler systems. Also the protection of the columns, beams and floor separations with fire resistant materials.

          • Westover

            Not that I expect to ever live the apartment/condo life again, but if I should, i will stick to the old concrete and block ones like I had at The Arlington, or even step up to Fairlington. Sprinklers do help a ton, but they are more likely to fail than a cinder block wall on a poured concrete floor is going to.

          • Jane-Dallas

            Thank goodness developers never cut corners.

      • BreakPause02

        Noise, primarily.

        Not so much adjacent units, but rather from units above. Just as in a two+ story wood framed home, floors may squeak, etc.

    • Likes to see business kept local

      Similar type building in Woodbridge burned just a few days ago. Cause was not stated, but two apartments were heavily damaged. Looked like it was also built with wood. Had sprinklers, but fire was in attic above the sprinklers, I believe.

  • Sam Walton

    Anyone have any idea what the trolley would have done on the Pike given the bottom right picture? I see a path that articulated buses could have used but don’t know how the trolley would have gotten around the fire trucks.

    • Trolly Troll

      Thats a good point, but, since traffic was stopped in that direction, I guess the Street Cars would have waited with the articulated buses.

      Location of fire lanes on the pike will have to be addressed if the street car adopted.

      • Westover

        President Kennedy was right to ban the trollys downtown after one broke down in front of the WH gate, keeping him from his dte with Ms. Monroe. While they bring a feeling of nostalgia, vehicles limited to specific tracks in the road are no longer a great idea. Maybe having them run the parallel side streets is a better idea, or even down a new right of way along the W&OD and Four Mile Run.

        • Hattie McDaniel

          How can a president ban something from downtown? There is no such authority. It is Congress that has jurisdiction over the District, not the Executive Branch.

          • S. Arlington Resident

            Typical Westover know-it-all.

          • Westover

            DC had NO self-rule in 1961, POTUS was the defacto mayor and emperor of the District of Columbia. In January 1962 they were already on the way to being gone, but after Kennedy’s way was blocked by a broken down street car, he had them shut down for good on the 28th of that month.

          • Hattie McDaniel

            “To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the Acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings.”

          • Hattie McDaniel
        • Sim City

          A streetcar on the W&OD would serve the length of Columbia Pike how? Sigh.

          Leaving aside the fact that those two corridors — W&OD and Columbia Pike — are are at right-angles to each other and go to completely different places, the bottom line is leave the W&OD alone. It works great as a pedestrian/bike trail.

          • Westover

            It worked well as a train line before it worked as a pedestrian/bike trail, and the right of way would have space for both.

          • Sim City

            Just doesn’t go the right places, unless you want to travel from the Weenie Beenie to Madison Manor playground. And of course, train tracks would wreck the scenic parts of the trail.

          • Confused

            it currently works as a power line location. It also cuts through several parks.

            Its POSSIBLE all that could be reconciled with LRT, but its not obvious to me that it could. In any case it does not address the issues of transit capacity on the pike, redevelopment of the pike, etc.

          • Westover

            As I said earlier, use the paralle side streets instead of the pike.

        • Confused

          “While they bring a feeling of nostalgia, vehicles limited to specific tracks in the road are no longer a great idea. ”

          modern streetcars do not look like the old ones, so I’m not sure they appeal to feelings of nostalgia.

          However you are right, it might be better to dedicate lanes to transit. IIUC VDOT will not allow that with Columbia Pike.

    • drax

      Nobody is going down that street.

      • KalashniKEV

        Yes they are. That’s why the cones are there.

  • Help a fellow out here

    Forget about little Hondas: fire trucks might flip over if the streetcar comes to Columbia Pike…


    • JohnB

      You are a troll.

      • Westover

        How is pointing out such a releavent fact being a troll?

  • PikeMan

    i live in that building. the evening before, i went on my balcony to have a smoke and i smelled gasoline, the air was so strong with that smell I didn’t have the cigarette because i was concerned that flicking the lighter might light me up along with the cigarette.

    the morning of the fire (yesterday) i smelled the smoke as i was leaving for work, and i passed two archstone workers going to check it out. the apartment they went to had had a letter from archstone taped to its door for over a week.

    i don’t know if any of the above is related. i just hope it didn’t involve a disgruntled former tenant who skipped out on their lease because that’s immediately where my mind went because a few of years ago, in a different apartment complex, a next door neighbor moved out of their apartment and left all the eyes of the stove on. i know that because i had been smelling gas in the hallway and reported it to management.


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