Someone tried to light a door on fire at the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses church in the East Falls Church neighborhood of Arlington this morning.
The fire was set using a flammable substance just before 10 a.m., according to Arlington County Fire Department spokesman Lt. Jason Hart. The fire damaged the door — an entrance to the church sanctuary — and some surrounding bushes but did not spread beyond that.
Investigators from the Fire Marshal’s Office are still on scene this afternoon, gathering evidence.
This is the second such arson case currently being investigated in Northern Virginia, Hart said; a similar fire was recently set at a Jehovah’s Witnesses church in the Falls Church section of Fairfax County.
Arlington authorities are coordinating the investigation with their Fairfax County counterparts, according to Hart.
Investigators believe the small fire, inside a bathroom at the Inova Urgent Care clinic (3263 Columbia Pike) was an act of arson. And it may be part of a string of intentionally-set small fires.
Arlington County firefighters responded to several suspicious small fires Sunday and Monday, including two set 20 minutes apart.
“There have been an uptick in small fires in the county,” said Lt. Jason Hart. “We have not tied them together yet, it’s still under investigation.”
After Monday’s bathroom fire, Arlington police put out a lookout call for a woman with a facial hair, who was suspected of setting the fire. Based on the description relayed over the radio, the woman was detained and questioned, but was ultimately released due to lack of evidence, Hart said.
The man who was rescued from this morning’s house fire near Shirlington has died from smoke inhalation, according to the Arlington County Fire Department.
The victim has not yet been identified, pending notification of his family, ACFD spokeswoman Lt. Sarah Marchegiani told ARLnow.com.
The fire, on the 2100 block of S. Randolph Street, began around 4:30 a.m. and drew about 70 firefighters to the scene. It was knocked down within 30 minutes, the fire department said. Damage to the house is estimated at $90,000.
The victim was trapped on the first floor when firefighters found him, Marchegiani said. He was transported to Virginia Hospital Center, where he later succumbed to his injuries. There were smoke alarms in the house, but investigators don’t yet know if they were working.
The fire was the second in two days. Firefighters successfully rescued two people from the roof of a burning house in the Old Glebe neighborhood early Wednesday morning.
This was the first fire fatality of 2015. Four people died in house fires in 2014, Marchegiani said. In 2013, there were no deaths from fires in Arlington.
The fire department is reminding residents that it supplies free smoke detector installations. From a press release:
The Arlington County Fire Department reminds you to:
- Install smoke alarms on every floor and in every bedroom.
- Test your smoke alarms every month by pressing the “test” button.
- Change the batteries in all alarms twice a year with daylight savings time, unless you alarm is equipped with a 10 year lithium battery.
- Ensure every person in your home understands and practices your home fire escape plantwice a year. Your plan should include two ways out of every room, getting low, closing the door behind, going directly to your predetermined family meeting place, and then calling 9-1-1.
If you do not have a working smoke alarm, the fire department provides free smoke alarm installations for Arlington County residents.
(Updated at 9:00 a.m.) Two people have been killed in an early morning house fire in the Columbia Forest neighborhood.
The two-alarm blaze was reported at 4:17 a.m., at a house on the 1100 block of S. Emerson Street, not far from Wakefield High School.
Firefighters arrived at 4:23 a.m. and found heavy fire extending from the first floor to the second floor. They also encountered an adult and a child who had escaped the fire, standing outside and yelling that another adult and child were trapped inside.
It took about 15 minutes to get the fire under control, according to Arlington County Fire Department spokeswoman Lt. Sarah Marchegiani. Firefighters found the trapped adult and child deceased inside the house.
WJLA reported that the two survivors were an adult man and his middle school-aged daughter. They were transported to Medstar Washington Hospital Center and Children’s National Medical Center, respectively, said Marchegiani.
As is standard procedure for a major fatal fire, Arlington County fire marshals, police and ATF agents are all investigating the blaze.
“It’s going to be a slow and methodical process,” said Marchegiani. “I don’t anticipate any updates today on the cause of the fire.”
In a press release this afternoon, fire officials say the home lacked working smoke detectors.
Early this morning, Arlington County Fire Department (ACFD) responded to a house fire at 1106 S. Emerson St. that claimed the lives of two of the occupants. Firefighters arrived to find two victims outside the home with reports of two additional people trapped inside. Firefighters encountered a large volume of fire on the first and second floors. They called a second alarm, bringing a total of approximately 70 firefighters to the scene, including personnel from Fairfax Fire and Rescue Department and Alexandria Fire Department. It took approximately 15 minutes to bring the fire under control and locate the bodies of the two deceased victims.
The two victims found outside the home were transported by medic unit for smoke inhalation and burns to Medstar Washington Hospital Center and Children’s National Medical Center, both in stable condition.
ACFD Fire Marshals are investigating the origin and cause of the fire, with assistance from Arlington County Police Department (ACPD) and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).
One occupant reported the home had no working smoke alarms and they were alerted to the fire by the sound of crackling. Smoke alarms allow for early warning of a fire, increasing the time for escape and the chances of survival.
ACFD urges everyone to:
- Install smoke alarms on every floor and in every bedroom.
- Test the alarms every month by pushing the test button.
- Change the batteries in the alarms twice a year with daylight savings time.
- Replace all alarms every 10 years, or according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Ensure every person in your home knows and practices your home escape plan. Include a plan for anyone in your home that needs assistance evacuating. Remember to have two ways out of every room, get low, close the door behind you, go to your family meeting place and once outside, stay outside.
Read more information on smoke alarms or request a smoke alarm if you cannot afford to purchase one.
Arlington County firefighters battled a furniture fire on Friday night (August 1) that sent up plumes of smoke near Glebe Road and N. Pershing Drive.
They were called to 218 N. Glebe Road, where furniture placed next to a dumpster had caught fire around 8:15 p.m. An ACFD spokesperson says it took longer than usual for responders to get to the scene because they initially received the wrong address.
Firefighters easily extinguished the flames once they arrived on scene. Nobody was hurt.
The fire marshal is investigating the incident to determine if the fire was an accident or if it was set intentionally.
Video courtesy of Eric Davis
(Updated at 2:15 p.m.) A house fire just before 2:00 a.m. Tuesday did $150,000 of damage and sent two firefighters to the hospital, but the home’s occupants were unharmed.
At 1:51 a.m., Arlington County Fire Department received a call for a house fire on the 1700 block of S. Oakland Street, just two blocks away from Fire Station 9 on S. Walter Reed Drive, according to ACFD spokeswoman Lt. Sarah Marchegiani. The occupants, two adults and an infant, had gotten out of their Douglas Park house safely after being woken up by a fire alarm.
The fire was “inside the walls” on the second story of the house, Marchegiani said, making it difficult for firefighters to douse the flames. The fire spread across the second floor and into the attic before firefighters were able to contain and extinguish it.
“It took almost an hour to knock down the fire because they had to basically open the walls to find the fire,” Marchegiani said, adding that the firefighters “were experiencing heavy heat.”
Two firefighters were transported to the hospital via ambulance, one suffering from smoke inhalation and another from “minor trauma.” Marchegiani said both are in good condition as of late this morning.
Marchegiani emphasized that the fire could have turned tragic if it weren’t for the house’s alarms. The Fire Marshal is conducting an investigation into the cause of the fire.
“We credit the fact that there were no injuries to the occupants to the working smoke alarms,” Marchegiani said. “That’s really the message we’re trying to push.”
The victims of the house fire that claimed two lives in Nauck on March 15 have been identified as Yvonne Barrie and Bobbie Nelson Goins.
Barrie, who was 73 when she died, had lived in the house for two years before the fire, according to her neighbor Roxie Johnson. Johnson said Barrie’s son had built the house and died three years ago, after which Barrie moved into the house.
The next day, March 16, would have been Barrie’s 74th birthday, Johnson said.
Goins, who was 77, had escaped from the fire before going back into the house to try to save Barrie, according to witnesses. He did not live at the house and Arlington County Fire Department spokeswoman Lt. Sarah Marchegiani could not release details of their relationship.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation, Marchegiani said, and there is no timetable for when the Fire Marshal will release the findings.
Photo via @Sooo_Sick
(Updated at 4:00 p.m.) The man who died on Saturday in the house fire in Arlington’s Nauck neighborhood had already left the burning house before going back in to rescue the female victim.
According to the Arlington County Fire Department and witnesses on the 1900 block of S. Langley Street, the man — who, along with the female victim, has not been identified — was one of several people to have escaped the house before going back inside.
“It was so sad because you could hear people yell, ‘she’s still in there,'” Cheryl Johnson, who lives across the street, told ARLnow.com. “I couldn’t believe it when I saw him go in there. You have to really love someone to do something like that.”
It took 12-15 minutes for firefighters to knock the fire down, Deputy Fire Marshal Brian McGraw said on Saturday, but the house was completely engulfed in flames by that time. ACFD estimates the fire did $550,000 worth of damage to the home. Seven occupants were displaced by the fire and are receiving housing and assistance from the Red Cross.
Witnesses heard multiple “loud booms,” which a neighbor said was from the victims’ oxygen tanks. ACFD spokeswoman Sarah Marchegiani told ARLnow.com yesterday that several factors contributed to the speed of the blaze.
“The fire spread rapidly because of the wind,” Marchegiani said. “Wind gusts were sustained at 19 miles-per-hour and reached up to 28 miles-per-hour. The vinyl siding was also a factor. There’s nothing wrong with that siding, but it caused more rapid fire spread.”
The two bodies were discovered in an upstairs bedroom, ACFD said in a press release sent out just before 3:30 p.m. Tuesday. Firefighters attempted an initial rescue but were forced to retreat when the flames spread rapidly to the second floor and attic. One firefighter suffered smoke inhalation during the rescue.
Roxie Johnson, Cheryl’s mother, said she “thought the water was a little slow getting on the house,” but said there was a fire truck outside the house when the fire was barely showing on the front porch.
“The house went up like a piece of paper,” Roxie Johnson said. “I don’t know how many minutes it took to go up, but in no time it went all over the house.”
Cheryl Johnson said the fire had spread so quickly, and the wind was blowing so hard, that firefighters were spraying down the house next door in attempts to prevent it from catching on fire.
“You could feel the heat from our front steps,” she said. “I didn’t think anything could burn that fast.”
Marchegiani said the Fire Marshal’s investigation is ongoing and no conclusions are expected in the next week. An autopsy is being performed on the victims today. Eighty firefighters responded to the two-alarm fire, and ACFD and the Arlington County Police Department are being assisted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
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.”
The fire broke out on a terrace and did not damage the interior of the cultural center. The cause is under investigation.
“The fire was quickly extinguished and contained to the terrace area,” said Arlington County Fire Department spokesman Capt. Gregg Karl. “There was damage to a piece of construction equipment and the terrace. The fire is under investigation by the Fire Marshal.”
Said Artisphere spokesman Jim Byers: “Artisphere is open as usual, as the fire was not inside the venue itself.”
Additional details were not immediately available.
The new public plaza at the Penrose Square development along Columbia Pike is still expected to open this fall, despite a recent setback.
The contractor working on the $2 million project found and accidentally ruptured an oil tank earlier this month during excavation work, we’re told. The rupture contaminated part of the site, but the county and contractors worked quickly to remedy the situation.
According to Arlington County Department of Parks and Recreation spokeswoman Susan Kalish:
The tank’s presence was previously unknown by the County. [Arlington] County’s construction manager immediately stopped contractor from working and notified our 3rd party consultant. Samples were taken and the fire marshal and Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (VADEQ) were notified. VADEQ directed County to have the tanks removed by a licensed contractor in the presence of the fire marshal. Samples were also taken to determine the extent of the contamination. Remediation steps have been approved by VADEQ.
Kalish said the plaza is still on track to open this fall.
“Construction is scheduled to be completed and the project opened in fall 2012,” she told ARLnow.com. “This issue will cause some delay, but is still expected to be completed and open in fall 2012.”
The plaza will consist of “a tree-covered, upper terrace with movable tables and chairs; an inner plaza with a water feature; a unique two-piece sculpture called ‘Echo’; an inscription of the historic significance of the site, and a grass mound area shaded with trees for informal seating,” according to the county.
Capt. Gregg Karl says the first step to fireworks safety is to make sure you’re using fireworks that are legal in Arlington County. Any fireworks purchased from an authorized fireworks stand in the county should comply with county regulations, Karl said. Those regulations specify that the fireworks emit a flame or spark less than 12 feet in the air.
Any fireworks that are “projectiles, explode, emit flames or sparks to a distance greater than twelve (12) feet are prohibited by Arlington County,” according to the county’s fireworks safety web page. The fire department also has a 42 page long list of fireworks approved for use in Arlington.
To prevent your fireworks from lighting anything on fire, Karl recommends placing them away from structures and watering down any nearby grass or brush.
“If you’re going to do any [legal fireworks], make sure you’re away from buildings and combustibles,” he said. “If you’re on grass, make sure you wet the ground around it. Please use extreme caution due to the dry conditions.”
Karl noted that fireworks should not be lit on county streets or sidewalks.
Other personal fireworks safety tips from the county include:
- Never allow children to play with or ignite fireworks. Sparklers, considered by many the ideal “safe” firework for the young, burn at very high temperatures and can easily ignite clothing. Children cannot understand the danger involved and cannot act appropriately in case of emergency.
- Read and follow all warnings and instructions.
- Be sure other people are out of range before lighting fireworks. Never shoot a firework at or near another person.
- Only light fireworks on a smooth, flat surface away from the house, dry leaves, and flammable materials.
- Never try to re-light fireworks that have not fully functioned. Douse and soak them with water and throw them away.
- Keep a bucket of water handy in case of a malfunction or fire.
- Never ignite fireworks in a container, especially a glass or metal container.
- Keep unused fireworks away from firing areas.
- Store fireworks in a dry, cool place. Check instructions for special storage directions.
- Observe local laws.
- Never have any portion of your body directly over a firework while lighting.
- Don’t experiment with homemade fireworks.
Arlington fire marshals will be patrolling the county and responding to resident complaints about fireworks tomorrow, Karl said. Any illegal fireworks will be confiscated and a warning will be issued. Repeat offenders may be issued a summons to appear in court.
Police will also be on the lookout for illegal fireworks, but will be more focused on traffic control efforts connected to the fireworks display on the National Mall. The fireworks are scheduled to run between 9:10 and 9:30 p.m. Viewing areas in and around Arlington include the Iwo Jima memorial, the Air Force Memorial, Gravelly Point, Rosslyn Gateway Park and Long Bridge Park.
“Our Special Operations Section is going to be out there directing and monitoring all traffic,” said Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.
County Urges Residents to Buy CO Alarms — Arlington County Chief Fire Marshal Daniel Fitch is urging residents to buy, install and maintain carbon monoxide alarms. The recommendation, in the form of a press release, came one day after five people died from carbon monoxide poisoning in Oxon Hill, Md. [Arlington County]
Route 1 Transit Corridor Tension — Arlington and Alexandria are at odds over the proposed transit corridor along Route 1, reports Michael Lee Pope. Arlington has, for some reason, backed off a promise to kick in $2.4 million for an environmental analysis for the project, according to Pope. [Arlington Connection]
United Exempts Foreign Service from New Pet Fees — Rep. Jim Moran is applauding a decision by United Airlines to exempt the cost of transporting pets overseas for the country’s more than 5,000 Foreign Service workers. Last month United announced new charges to transporting pets, but at the time exempted only military personnel. “The policy change could have added thousands of dollars in moving costs to Foreign Service personnel,” Moran’s office said in a press release.
No Drones Over Arlington — Despite a report that the Arlington County Police Department has been cleared by the FAA to operate drone aircraft, the department says they’re drone-free. “The Arlington Police Department cleared is in Arlington, TX,” said department spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. “ACPD has no plans [for] ever using drones.”
A total of 27 decorative flags were burned overnight on a quiet couple of blocks between Quantico Street and Sycamore Street, near Bishop O’Connell High School and Tuckahoe Elementary, according to fire department spokesman Lt. Gregg Karl. Neighbors say the plastic flags were recently placed in yards by the Boy Scouts, an annual Flag Day tradition.
Investigators believe whoever burned the flags did so just before 5:30 a.m. The fires caused the plastic flags to melt onto plants, yards and walkways. No word on a motive, but one neighbor on 27th Street theorized that the vandal or vandals were trying to send a message.
“There are some people who object to the flags for political reasons,” she said. “There are ways to protest if you don’t believe in something, but destructive protests like this do not accomplish goals. It does not accomplish anything.”
The resident acknowledged, however, that the flag burnings could also be a random act of “pure vandalism,” adding that said she could not remember anything like this happening in the 11 years she has lived in the neighborhood.
“It’s dangerous,” she said. “It could have caused a real fire.”
Anyone with information about the burnings is asked to call Deputy Fire Marshal Paul Frank at 703-228-4644. More photos, after the jump.
Hat tip to Colleen Creighton
First arriving firefighters found heavy smoke and flames at the front and back of the house on the 5100 block of N. Carlin Springs, said Arlington County Fire Department spokesman Lt. Gregg Karl. One victim had managed to escape the blaze, but another was still trapped inside on the second floor.
“[Firefighters] made an aggressive interior attack and search,” Karl said. “They located the victim and removed the victim via ground ladder from a second floor window.”
The two victims were transported to Virginia Hospital Center. The woman who had been rescued was then flown to Baltimore Shock Trauma for treatment of smoke inhalation, Karl said.
The flames broke out around 1:45 a.m. Northbound and southbound Carlin Springs Road was closed near the scene for much of the morning, as the Fire Marshal’s office investigated the cause of the blaze.