Arlington, VA

Some seniors in the right place at the right time helped to stop a fire in Ballston.

A group of seniors from the Arlington Neighborhood Village program were playing their weekly bocce match Monday (Aug. 5) at the courts near the Ballston public parking garage when they noticed a distinctly smoky smell.

“All of us kept smelling smoke, but at first we couldn’t tell where it was coming from,” Gary Eiserman, one of the players on the green team, told ARLnow in an email. “Then I noticed smoke rising out of the bushes near the bocce courts.”

As the players approached, they poked around and saw smoke coming up through the mulch at the base of the bushes.

“We stomped on what embers we could find, then doused the area with water from one of our water bottles,” Eiserman said. “We figured the fire was out, and went back to the game, but shortly after that we smelled smoke and saw more smoke in the bushes.  We didn’t have more water to put on the fire, and it was very close to a large transformer, so at that point we decided to call for help, telling them that it wasn’t an emergency, but someone should come and put it out.”

Arlington County Fire Department spokesman Capt. Ben O’Bryant said firefighters from Engine 102 were able to extinguish the smoldering fire with a fire extinguisher. Firefighters at the scene told the players that the dryness of the mulch meant it was a good thing the seniors called when they did, according to Eiserman.

“We were very impressed with the firefighters,” Helen Onufrak, one of the players on the red team, said. “It certainly added excitement to our weekly bocce game.”

The group posed for a photo with the firefighters, before the ACFD squad departed. The game then continued, with red team beating the green team 16 to 7.

While recounting the eventful bocce outing to ARLnow, Eiserman offered some headline ideas.

“I also have a couple of suggestions for titles: ‘Great Bocce Balls of Fire!'” Eiserman said, “or: ‘Bocce Ballers Battle Burning Bush, Blaze Beaten By Ballston’s Bravest.'”

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Morning Notes

Brush Fire in Park Near Columbia Pike — “Firefighters were called to Alcova Park a little after noon today to put out this small fire. No word on cause, but it’s an early season reminder to fully extinguish smoking & BBQ’ing materials before safely discarding them in a metal container & leaving the area.” [Twitter]

‘Walk for the Animals’ Tickets on Sale — “On Saturday, June 8, 2019 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., AWLA invites you to Walk for the Animals and celebrate our 75th anniversary of improving the lives of animals in our community… $35 Early Bird registration until May 1 (includes Walk registration and t-shirt)” [Animal Welfare League of Arlington]

Traffic Enforcement in Clarendon — Arlington County Police conducted “high-visibility pedestrian enforcement at the intersection of N. Highland Street and Washington Boulevard as part of regional @COGStreetSmart campaign” yesterday afternoon. [Twitter, Twitter]

Arlington Resident Wins Lottery — “An Arlington man is $100,000 richer after playing a Cash 5 game he purchased at a store in the Fort Myer Heights neighborhood near Rosslyn recently.” [Patch]

Ebbin, Levine Endorse Parisa — State Sen. Adam Ebbin (D) and Del. Mark Levine (D) have endorsed Parisa Dehghani-Tafti, Democratic candidate for Commonwealth’s Attorney of Arlington County and the City of Falls Church. They join several other elected officials, including former Gov. Terry McAuliffe and former County Board member Walter Tejada, in endorsing the challenger in the Democratic primary. [Facebook, Blue Virginia]

Stamos’ Recent Endorsements — Earlier this month Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos announced endorsements from Arlington’s firefighter union and county treasurer Carla de la Pava in her bid for reelection, in addition to a litany of endorsements from other elected and former elected officials. [Facebook, Facebook]

Nearby: Aldi Coming to Bailey’s Crossroads — An Aldi grocery store will reportedly be replacing the former Babies R Us store at 5700 Columbia Pike, while a nearby Safeway store is said to be closing. [Annandale Blog]

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

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A fire on the eve of Thanksgiving has damaged well-known local restaurant Caribbean Grill.

The fire broke out around 11 p.m. inside the restaurant at 5183 Lee Highway, according to fire officials. It was “caused by hot coals that fell out of [a] grill on to combustibles nearby.”

A large fire response was dispatched, but the fire was quickly extinguished and only minor damage — including smoke damage — was reported. No one was injured. The restaurant filled with smoke and firefighters remained on scene to ventilate the structure afterward.

Wednesday night was a busy night for the Arlington County Fire Department. Around 7 p.m. last night, firefighters battled a brush fire in the woods on the 3000 block of N. Quincy Street, in the Dover Crystal neighborhood.

A fire department spokesman estimated that the fire, which was extinguished without incident, scorched about 400 square feet of woodlands.

https://twitter.com/ArlingtonVaFD/status/933501004380811264

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(Updated on 5/17/17) A brush fire that burned for an hour yesterday between the Four Mile Run Drive access road and the W&OD Trail left a large, scorched scar on the hillside.

A passerby photographed the scene yesterday evening and said “you can still smell” the smoke and fire, which was caused by a downed power line.

At least one vehicle appeared to be damaged during the incident.

Photos courtesy @bobco85

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Update at 2:30 p.m. — The fire has been extinguished and Four Mile Run Drive is expected to reopen shortly. The access road is expected to remain closed until the fallen tree is removed.

Update at 2:15 p.m. — Electricity has been shut off to the fallen power lines and firefighters are now working to extinguish the brush fire.

Earlier: A tree has fallen on power lines and sparked a growing brush fire along Four Mile Run Drive.

The incident was first reported by a passerby just after 1 p.m.

Initial reports suggest a large tree fell across the Four Mile Run Drive access road, striking a power line. That sparked a brush fire in the dry grass below, which as of 1:20 p.m. continues to burn.

The fire department cannot extinguish the wildfire around the power line until Dominion Power crews arrive and shut off the power, according to scanner traffic. As of 1:40 p.m. the flames were nearing vehicles parked along the access road.

Residents should expect “a lot of smoke in the area,” according to a police officer on scene. Police have shut down traffic in both directions on the access road near S. Wakefield Street and are preparing to shut down the mainline Four Mile Run Drive.

Photo courtesy Alex Chamandy, John Chandler

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Morning Notes

Red leaves and a bicycle (Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley)

Windy, Dry Conditions = Fire Danger — The National Weather Service is warning of an elevated fire danger today due to windy conditions, with gusts up to 45 miles per hour, combined with dry vegetation. [Weather Channel]

Tree Fire in South Arlington — In what was likely a wind-fueled fire, several trees caught fire Saturday evening on the 600 block of 29th Street S., near Crystal City. Firefighters from Arlington and Alexandria were able to bring the fire under control within 10-15 minutes. [Twitter, Twitter]

Career Center Mannequin Challenge — The Arlington Career Center has produced a mannequin challenge video, highlighting the various skills taught at the center. [Vimeo]

Opinion Piece: Think Bigger Than Bus Parking — An op-ed published in the Washington Post criticizes the possible school bus facility proposed for land that the county is acquiring across from Washington-Lee High School, next to I-66. “This is not a NIMBY issue,” writes the author, a nearby resident. “But before taking the path of least resistance and plopping a bus garage into a residential neighborhood, Arlington should carefully consider its options and ‘think big.'” [Washington Post]

Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley

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Arlington County firefighters are responding to a brush fire in Crystal City.

The smoky fire broke out in the median along Route 1, near the 23rd Street intersection.

Police and an Alexandria medic unit are on scene, attempting to use a fire extinguisher to control the blaze.

Update at 3:05 p.m. — The fire is reported to be out.

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Morning Notes

Spring in bloom in Rosslyn

Metro Delays This Morning — Metro is experiencing big delays on the Blue and Orange lines after reports that a teenage girl intentionally jumped onto the tracks at the Eastern Market station. The Blue and Orange line is single-tracking between Eastern Market and Federal Center, while the Silver Line is only operating between Wiehle-Reston and Ballston. [Hill Now, Twitter, Twitter]

Gondola Feasibility Study Gets Eight Responses — Eight firms have responded to a Request for Proposals to conduct a feasibility study of a Rosslyn-to-Georgetown gondola system. The team for the study is expected to be chosen in about a month. The study is expected to be complete by the end of the year. [UrbanTurf]

Fire Danger Today — There’s an enhanced threat of brush fires today, even in Arlington. The National Weather Service has issued a Red Flag Warning for the area as low humidity and gusty winds combine for a significant fire danger. “Any fires will have the potential to spread very rapidly,” NWS says. [National Weather Service]

Parking Lots Crowded at DCA — Spring break and the Easter weekend are combining for a busy week and crowded parking lots at Reagan National Airport. As of this morning, the airport’s 2,613-space economy lot is full and there are only a few hundred spaces left in the 5,223-space Terminal B/C garages. [Twitter, Fly Reagan]

AYD Date Auction Next Week — The Arlington Young Democrats will hold their 15th annual charity date auction this coming Tuesday. Eligible bachelors and bachelorettes — along with face time with prominent elected officials — will be auctioned off to benefit the Arlington Food Assistance Center. [Arlington Young Dems]

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The Arlington County Fire Marshal’s office is investigating a grass fire that ignited in front of an elementary school Monday afternoon.

The fire was reported around 1:30 p.m. and scorched a 20 by 40 foot area in front of Drew Model School (3500 23rd Street S.) in the Nauck neighborhood, according to fire department spokeswoman Lt. Sarah Marchegiani. Witnesses told authorities that the fire was sparked by individuals who were setting off fireworks, though no fireworks were found by investigators.

“The fire is still under investigation,” Marchegiani said. The blaze caused “minimal damage.”

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Smoke could be seen near the Pentagon this afternoon due to a brush fire.

The fire and the resulting smoke was seen in the median near the southbound I-395/Route 1 split.

Arlington County firefighters arrived on the scene and quickly extinguished the fire, but not before it scorched some dry brush in the median. Two lanes of southbound I-395 are currently blocked by the fire department activity.

Update at 4:10 p.m. — An accident with two injuries was reported in the same area at the time of the brush fire. It’s unclear if the two incidents are related.

Update at 4:50 p.m. — The scene has been cleared. All lanes are open.

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The warm, abnormally dry weather may be enjoyable for many people trying to partake in outdoor activities, but it’s causing a headache for firefighters.

Due to our area being about four inches below normal in rainfall for the year, more small fires have been sparking. Arlington County Fire Department Captain Gregg Karl said the county isn’t experiencing as many brush fires as some neighboring areas, but there have actually been a lot of mulch fires in the past few weeks.

According to Karl, most of the trouble has been with smokers trying to extinguish their cigarettes in plant boxes or areas with mulch. In many cases, the cigarettes smolder on the extremely dry, flammable material and then start a fire. Even drivers throwing cigarettes out of car windows has been causing trouble, because there’s mulch on many of the street medians in Arlington. Smokers are reminded to make sure cigarettes are completely extinguished, and to only use approved receptacles to dispose of them.

Even if we get some rain this weekend, it likely won’t be enough to alleviate the elevated fire danger.

“Unless we were to get a good, long, soaking rain, the fire danger will remain,” Karl said. “We need a persistent rain for a few days to get our levels where they need to be.”

Karl said some residents hear about red flag warnings and have questions about open burn restrictions. However, open burns of items such as yard clippings and debris are never allowed in Arlington, per the county code.

Another thing that goes hand in hand with warm weather is grilling, which can be a hazard as well. Anyone using a charcoal grill is reminded to use extra caution with the coals.

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