(Updated at 7:55 a.m.) Ireland’s Four Courts in Courthouse caught fire after a car barreled into it at the height of dinnertime Friday.
The fire is now out after a two-alarm fire department response. Photos from the scene show the longtime local bar charred, with a car fully inside the restaurant after the crash. An earlier photo shows flames shooting out of the front of the pub while police run towards the scene and an injured person is hoisted by several people on the sidewalk.
Police say four people were taken to hospitals with serious, potentially life-threatening injuries. Four additional people were hospitalized with less serious injuries, while six were treated on scene, according to Arlington County police.
The driver of the car and at least one restaurant employee are said to be among the injured.
Dave Cahill, Four Courts’ general manager, told ARLnow in a brief phone call that at least one employee was hospitalized for smoke inhalation, but none were among the seriously injured. All four of the seriously injured people are believed to be customers who were inside the bar at a happy hour for a local company, Cahill said.
The crash happened when a car “came down N. Courthouse Road and went into the building going very quick,” Cahill said. He said it went about 20 feet into the building before coming to rest and catching fire. Initial reports suggest multiple people were inside the car at the time of the crash.
Courthouse Road ends at a “T” intersection with Wilson Blvd, with Four Courts directly in front of the turning traffic. It is unclear why the driver did not stop or turn. The car appeared to be going well above the speed limit, witnesses said.
Police radio traffic from immediately after the crash paints a chaotic scene, with officers requesting “a lot of ambulances” and reporting to dispatch that “a lot of people” were trapped in the burning restaurant. A video posted to TikTok shows people evacuating as the flames quickly grow in intensity and first responders arrive.
A large emergency response remains on scene and roads in the area are expected to stay closed for an extended period of time.
“Please keep the all the injured in your thoughts and prayers,” Ireland’s Four Courts said on social media shortly before 8 p.m. “Thanks to @ArlingtonVaPD and @ArlingtonVaFD for their quick response. We are devastated.”
“Praying for the health of the injured in this horrible incident,” said County Board member Takis Karantonis.
Cahill called the damage to the front of the restaurant “very significant” but told ARLnow that he believes the newer rear portion of the restaurant and its kitchen were spared fire damage. Police said around 9:30 p.m. that the building was determined by engineers to be structurally sound but unable to be reinhabited, for now.
The smashed car was removed from the now-boarded-up pub and taken away on a flatbed tow truck early Saturday morning.
During the response to the crash and fire, an Arlington County Fire Department battalion chief’s vehicle was itself involved in a significant crash on Route 50 at the intersection with Fillmore Street. Several vehicles were reported to have been involved.
No additional information was immediately available about that crash.
Update at 1:35 p.m. — The quick actions of Four Courts customers and first responders likely saved multiple lives, according to new ARLnow reporting.
NEWS PHOTO: @RealJDenton https://t.co/lOcDbCjt8q pic.twitter.com/qk2ewCWfAK
— Alan Henney (@alanhenney) August 12, 2022
CLARENDON 2 ALARM FIRE WITH MULTIPLE VICTIMS @fox5dc @nbcwashington @alanhenney @RealTimeNews10 pic.twitter.com/aTZDZjjxA0
— Xavier “X” (@xthefirephoto) August 12, 2022
Here's the earliest video I've seen so far of the vehicle into Ireland's Four Courts setting the bar and restaurant on fire. This is at Wilson near N. Courthouse. Multiple people reported injured. https://t.co/uZEzbLaFSo
— Dave Statter (@STATter911) August 12, 2022
It’s @irelands4courts — a place I’ve spent plenty of time and probably more money. Hope the folks there are okay. pic.twitter.com/lhOgj1HZzr
— Sean Quinn (@sdquinn) August 12, 2022
Video from the fire on Wilson Blvd following a vehicle that crashed into a restaurant. https://t.co/5OeU5JfUdq
— Dave Statter (@STATter911) August 12, 2022
Hat tip to Alan Henney
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