Arlington, VA

(Updated at 2:15 p.m.) A man suffered serious burn injuries after a flash fire erupted in the kitchen of a popular Ballston restaurant during Tuesday’s lunchtime rush.

Three others were being treated for potential injuries after the flare-up at Dirt restaurant, which recently opened at 4121 Wilson Blvd.

The incident happened around 12:15 p.m. While the restaurant was bustling with a lunchtime crowd, the kitchen suddenly and unexpectedly was engulfed by a large fireball. Staff and customers ran out of the restaurant, which was quickly evacuated.

One worker who had been in the kitchen during the flare-up ran out, screaming in pain from burns. Passersby and an Arlington County Fire Department ambulance crew, apparently on their lunch break, quickly jumped into action and began comforting and treating the man as he writhed on the ground.

He was transported via ambulance to the burn center at Medstar hospital in D.C. with serious but non-life-threatening injuries, according to ACFD.

Firefighters extinguished the remaining flames in the kitchen and treated the injured, two of whom were being transported to Virginia Hospital Center with minor burns, according to scanner traffic. Occupational safety investigators were dispatched to the scene to investigate.

Later Tuesday afternoon ACFD spokesman Capt. Ben O’Bryant told ARLnow that the fire was caused by an aerosol can of cooking oil that ignited after being placed next to a stove.

Among those inside the restaurant at the time of the incident was an ARLnow editor, who was paying for an order at the front counter — which is adjacent to the kitchen — when the fireball erupted. While the editor felt the intense heat of the fire and had ash in his eye, he was otherwise uninjured.

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Morning Notes

Tree Falls in Aurora Highlands — A large tree fell across 23rd Street S. in Aurora Highland, near Crystal City, yesterday evening around 5:15 p.m. It happened near the Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic church, between S. Ives and Hayes streets, amid gusty winds that felled other trees and branches around Arlington. The tree reportedly fell on a passing car, but those inside the vehicle were not injured. [Twitter]

Challenger Presses Favola — “Affordable housing and ethical issues took center stage as Democratic contenders for the 31st state Senate seat last week squared off for the first time leading up to the June 11 primary. Facing an uphill battle to knock off a two-term incumbent, challenger Nicole Merlene pressed the case that state Sen. Barbara Favola is too beholden to special interests to effectively represent the district.” [InsideNova]

Overturned SUV Along I-395 — Around 6 p.m. Sunday, an SUV overturned on a ramp to I-395 near Washington Blvd. A photo sent by a tipster shows the SUV on its side near the guardrail. No serious injuries were reported. [Twitter]

Barcroft Principal Lauded — “Judy Apostolico-Buck, who has spent 32 years in the Arlington school system, has been named the county’s 2019 Principal of the Year.” She was also a finalist for Washington Post Principal of the Year. [InsideNova, Washington Post]

Small Explosion in Falls Church Condo — “At 11:10 a.m. today, a contractor working on a stove received minor injuries from a gas flash explosion in a unit at the Falls Chase Condominium, located at 1136 S Washington St. Arlington Fire and Fairfax Fire Departments responded to the scene.” [City of Falls Church, Twitter]

Nearby: Peeping Tom in Falls Church — “City of Falls Church police are looking for more information regarding a peeping tom seen outside of Saint James Catholic School.” [Tysons Reporter]

Photo courtesy Ray Villarreal

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Update at 5:05 p.m. — Dominion has confirmed to authorities that the loud boom was caused by a malfunctioning underground transformer. Due to redundancies in Rosslyn’s electrical system, power has been restored to buildings affected by the outage, according to scanner traffic. Road closures are expected to be lifted soon.

Earlier: Arlington County Police have closed N. Lynn Street in Rosslyn to traffic and pedestrians after an explosion was heard in the area.

Initial reports suggest the explosion might be electrical in nature. 911 callers reported hearing a very loud boom, then seeing smoke and dislodged manhole covers near the Cosi restaurant at the corner of Lynn and 19th streets.

A Dominion power outage map reports an outage in the Rosslyn area. Officers escorted Dominion’s vehicles through Arlington to the scene to hasten their response. As of 5 p.m., police were still awaiting the assessment of Dominion crews before reopening the roadway.

Additional firefighters were sent to Rosslyn after the initial dispatch for reports of stuck elevators and smoke coming from the top of a building, both of which are likely related to the power outage.

No injuries have been reported, a police spokeswoman said. Metro said the explosion was not related to Metrorail service, though Metrobus service is affected by the road closure.

Drivers should expect major traffic impacts in the area with much of Rosslyn’s main outbound thoroughfare closed during the evening rush hour.

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(Updated at 5:10 p.m.) Arlington County Police and the county fire marshal are investigating the death of a woman in the High View Park neighborhood.

The 69-year-old woman’s son found her dead from in the kitchen of her home on 18th Street N., near Virginia Hospital Center, said Arlington County Police spokeswoman Ashley Savage. Three people, including the woman and her son, live in the home, she said.

Authorities were initially investigating a report of an explosion in the kitchen, according to scanner traffic. An explosion has since been ruled out, Savage said, but there was some sort of a fire inside the home.

The stove burners were on when the woman was first found but police have not determined whether she died from an accident, from natural causes or otherwise, Savage said. At this time foul play is not suspected, she added, nor is there believed to be any sort of gas leak in the area.

“There’s no threat to the public,” said Savage, “but this is an active investigation.”

A fire truck was dispatched to the home to assist with ventilation, Savage confirmed. The street has been closed to traffic by police, though neighbors are being allowed to walk to their homes.

Property records show that the couple who owns the home has owned it for at least 23 years.

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Update on Friday, Aug. 14 — Washington Gas crews were on scene digging up the roadway near the manhole this afternoon. (Photos above.)

A manhole cover “blew up” in Rosslyn Thursday afternoon, and Dominion Power is trying to figure out what exactly happened.

The incident happened at the intersection of Wilson Blvd and N. Oak Street around 12:45 p.m. A witness said there was some sort of blast that sent the manhole cover airborne with “flames and everything.”

“[The] cover launched into the air and the flames that shot out were higher than the SUV next to it,” said Elizabeth Denton.

Despite the scary scene, no injuries, damage or power outages were reported.

A Dominion spokesman said the company is investigating but isn’t yet sure what exactly happened to “dislodge” the manhole cover. A fire department spokesman could only confirm that there was a “haze of smoke” in the manhole after the incident.

“We are looking into it,” said Dominion’s Chuck Penn. “We don’t know what the cause was.”

As of around 3:00 Thursday afternoon, four Dominion trucks were parked near the intersection and workers were peering into the hole. One lane of traffic on westbound Wilson Blvd was blocked.

This was the second time in a couple of days that something happened to dislodge the manhole cover, the fire department spokesman said. The first incident this week involved a faulty electrical line, we’re told.

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Metro Transit Police at the Pentagon City Metro station on 4/15/13

(Updated at 6:30 p.m.) Metro Transit Police have stepped up patrols in response to this afternoon’s deadly explosions at the Boston Marathon.

“Metro Transit Police Chief Ronald Pavlik has ordered all day-shift patrol officers to remain on duty through this evening’s rush hour to increase the security posture of the transit system,” Metro said in a press release. “Metro is taking this step in an abundance of caution. There is no specific or credible threat against the Metro system at this time.”

“Customers are urged to report suspicious activity or unattended packages by calling Metro Transit Police at (202) 962-2121,” Metro said. “Metro Transit Police continue to monitor events in Boston and will take appropriate measures to heighten security.”

Outside the Pentagon City Metro this afternoon, two Metro Transit Police officers watched riders enter and exit the station. One had military-style rifle and the other had a police dog.

So far, Arlington County Police do not have specific plans to step up staffing levels or patrols, according to ACPD spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. Arlington’s bomb squad also has not made any staffing changes, according to fire department spokesman Capt. Gregg Karl.

Local residents who have friends and loved ones at the Boston Marathon, meanwhile, have been using the Facebook pages of local running stores like Pacers and Potomac River Running to keep track of their whereabouts and well-being.

Pentagon City Metro station Metro Transit Police at the Pentagon City Metro station on 4/15/13

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A suspected gas explosion rocked a high-rise senior living community near Ballston this morning.

One person was flown to a burn center after the explosion, inside The Carlin apartments at 4300 N. Carlin Springs Road, according to Arlington Fire Department spokesman Lt. Gregg Karl. No other injuries were reported.

About 100 residents have been displaced while authorities check the structural integrity of the building, Karl said. They’re being temporarily housed in a nearby church.

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Morning Notes

Last American WWI Vet Buried in Arlington — Army Cpl. Frank Buckles, the last surviving U.S. World War I veteran, was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery yesterday. Earlier in the day, President Obama and Vice President Biden stopped by to pay their respects as Buckles lay in repose in a cemetery chapel. [American Forces Press Service]

Underground Explosion Rocks Pike Townhouse Complex — An underground explosion caused a manhole cover to fly across the backyard of a townhouse complex near Columbia Pike yesterday morning. Firefighters are still trying to determine what caused the blast, but a strong gasoline-like odor could be smelled in the area. The gas also apparently caused fires to start near water heaters inside the townhouses. The complex is across the street from an auto repair shop and next to Four Mile Run. [ABC 7]

County Offers Tree Grants to Neighborhood Groups — Arlington is offering grants to local groups that want to plant trees on private property in the county. Grant applications are due in July, but groups must file a notice of intent next month. [Sun Gazette]

Pike Apartment Community May Be Redeveloped — Renovations or an out-and-out redevelopment may be in the works for the Greenbrier Apartments at 4975 Columbia Pike. The garden-style apartments were built in 1949 and are considered market-rate affordable. Arlington recently revised its affordable housing goals. [Pike Wire]

Nottingham PTA 5K This Weekend — The Nottingham Elementary PTA 5K Run/Walk is being held this weekend, with a course that will wind through part of North Arlington. Registration for the race ends tomorrow morning. [Active.com]

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(Updated at 11:20 a.m.) A white BMW exploded around 8:15 a.m. this morning in the Penrose neighborhood. Police say they believe the blast was accidental.

The explosion happened on 9th Street South between Veitch Street and Courthouse Road. No one was hurt, according to fire department spokesperson Lt. Ed Hughes.

“It appears to be an accident,” said police spokesperson Det. Crystal Nosal. “Nothing at this point leads us to believe it’s intentional.”

The car was parked in front of a single family home, but in proximity of two large apartment complexes: Dorchester Towers and 2121 Columbia Pike Apartments. It is three to four blocks away from the high-security headquarters of the Defense Information Systems Agency.

A witness who lives in Dorchester Towers says heavily-armed police apprehended an approximately 18-year-old male on the fifth floor of the building. So far, authorities are emphatic in their description of the man — who was led away in handcuffs around 10:15 a.m. — as a “person of interest” and not a “suspect.” Witnesses say the man was seen running from the scene of the explosion.

Police say the man and two other witnesses are being questioned, but are not currently “in custody,” as earlier reported. Det. Nosal said she believes the people seen fleeing the scene were merely “running away from an explosion.”

WTOP’s Neal Augenstein is reporting that an acetylene torch had been stored in the back of the car. A police source has also told ARLnow.com that the car belonged to a worker who had an acetylene tank, used for welding, in the trunk.

A member of the bomb squad is currently examining the car for signs of other explosive materials. Arlington police and firefighters have also cordoned off the parking lot in front of Dorchester Towers. Earlier, a robot and bomb dogs searched 9th Street and did not find any other explosives.

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