Arlington, VA

The County Board has granted restaurant and bar owners more leeway as to where they can set up and winterize outdoor seating.

Owners will now be able to set up temporary outdoor seating areas — or TOSAs — in common areas, such as plazas, following a vote during the recessed County Board meeting on Tuesday.

In May, when the County first established a program to allow TOSAs to respond to the pandemic, the seating on sidewalks and patios had to be associated with specific restaurants and bars.

The decision to give restaurants more space and flexibility is partly in response to a request from representatives of a plaza in Shirlington to open the space to outdoor seating for several nearby restaurants.

“Businesses have discovered another dimension of work in this enhanced environment,” County Board member Takis Karantonis said during the meeting. “I believe for the most part they are working very well, I’m very thankful for the enhancement before us today.”

This seating arrangement could be here to stay, County Manager Mark Schwartz told the board.

“We may need to drop the ‘T’ in TOSA,” Schwartz said. “We’ll see.”

To keep this going post-pandemic, the County Board would have to codify it in the zoning ordinance, County Attorney Stephen MacIsaac said. This ordinance will last up to six months after the emergency is declared over.

Expanding seating options through TOSA will accelerate implementation and avoid the fees associated with existing county processes for approving outdoor seating, Anthony Fusarelli, assistant director for the Department of Community Planning, Housing and Urban Development, told ARLnow.

The change comes as County officials encourage restaurants, which have set up tents and heaters outside the new permitting process, to go through official channels.

“We’re finding propane heaters used and stored under tents, and tents not being set up under TOSA,” which is not allowed, Fusarelli told the County Board.

CPHD has received only a dozen tent requests through TOSA applications, which means owners may not be aware of the rules, or are going outside of them, Fusarelli said.

This spring, the County had 250 requests for outdoor dining “of some sort,” and 120 TOSA applications, Fusarelli said. Since the temporary program launched, his department has approved 93 TOSAs.

“We’re doing the best we can on our end to respond to requests,” Fusarelli said. “We approved the first applications late last week, and will approve more in the future.”

The change would especially help restaurants without space on their property to accommodate and winterize outdoor seating according to Virginia’s fire codes. Heaters have to be five feet from exits, awnings and tents, and only electric heaters are permitted under tents.

Medium Rare owner Mark Bucher, who said he has not heard back about his TOSA application, is still chafing against the restriction that prohibits propane heaters from being installed under tents.

He is doing it anyway, even though the Arlington County Fire Department has repeatedly asked the restaurant to turn the heaters off.

“We have to because people are freezing,” Bucher told ARLnow. “If I stop, and I don’t heat the tents, I’m out of business.”

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Update at 4:15 p.m. — The Arlington County Police Department has released surveillance images of a man they say broke into the store and then set fire to it.

From ACPD:

The Arlington County Police Department’s Burglary/Larceny Unit is seeking the public’s assistance in identifying and locating a burglary and arson suspect captured on surveillance camera. At approximately 4:14 a.m. on April 13, the Arlington County Fire Department responded to the report of a structure fire in the 2600 block of Columbia Pike. After extinguishing the fire, the Fire Marshall responded to conduct an investigation and requested the assistance of the Arlington County Police Department. The investigation determined that at approximately 3:22 a.m., the suspect forced entry into the business and stole merchandise before intentionally setting a fire and fleeing the area on foot.

The suspect is described as a heavy-set male, 30-40 years old, approximately 5’10” to 6’0″ tall and weighing 300 pounds. He has a full beard and a bald spot. He was wearing glasses, a light shirt, dark colored jeans and a backpack at the time of the incident.

Anyone with information on the identity of these individuals or details surrounding this incident is asked to contact Detective T. Parsons of the Arlington County Police Department’s Burglary/Larceny Unit at 703-228-4172 or [email protected] To report information anonymously, contact the Arlington County Crime Solvers at 866.411.TIPS (8477).

Earlier: A fire was extinguished in the early morning hours this morning (Friday) at a business on Columbia Pike, according to the fire department.

Fourteen fire department units responded to the call on the 2600 block of Columbia Pike just before 4:15 a.m., after a passerby spotted the fire and called 911, according to a department spokesman.

The fire was out by 4:21 a.m. and there were no reported injuries.

The Fire Marshall was on scene and is investigating the cause, according to the spokesman. The fire was at Legend Kicks & Apparel, we’re told, and photos from the scene show firefighters at the storefront.

An online listing for the business indicates that the shoe store recently opened.

The block is also home to Le Touche Beauty Salon and The Salsa Room. The Arlington Cinema and Drafthouse is nearby, on another block.

Photos via Arlington County Fire Department

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Morning Notes

Arson Not Suspected in Ashton Heights Blaze — The house fire that critically injured an occupant of a house on N. Ivy Street in Ashton Heights “doesn’t appear to be malicious,” says the Arlington County Fire Department. The blaze caused about $300,000 in damage to the home. [Twitter]

Obama, Tillerson Join Army Navy Country Club — Former President Barack Obama and current Secretary of State Rex Tillerson both joined Army Navy Country Club earlier this year. [Washingtonian]

Homes in Arlington Get Pricier — “A total of 237 properties went to closing in September, up 8.7 percent from the 218 transactions a year before… With the increase in sales came a nearly identical hike in average sales price, which was up 8.8 percent to $640,441.” [InsideNova]

Police: Arlington Woman Left Stroller in Middle of Road — “A 19-year-old Arlington woman was arrested on Sunday after she allegedly left an infant in a stroller in the middle of the road in Woodbridge while she bit and assaulted an acquaintance during an argument.” [Prince William Times]

Lidl Struggling to Break Into U.S. Market — Lidl, the German grocery chain with its U.S. headquarters in Crystal City, is reportedly pulling out of a lease deal in Prince George’s County, Md. as it struggles to gain market share in the U.S. [Washington Business Journal]

Lost Dog Taking in Shelter Pets from Puerto Rico — The Arlington-based Lost Dog and Cat Rescue Foundation is among the local organizations taking in shelter pets from hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico. [WJLA]

Grohl References ‘Mario’s Pizza’ at D.C. Show — Northern Virginia native Dave Grohl said “we’re all going to Mario’s Pizza” while wrapping up a Foo Fighters performance at The Anthem in D.C. last night. The band will headline the venue’s grand opening tonight. [Twitter]

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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.

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Arlington County fire truckThe Arlington County Fire Marshal’s office is trying to determine who set a toilet seat cover dispenser on fire on Columbia Pike Monday afternoon.

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.

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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.

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(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.

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZMEYS9fJt8c&feature=youtu.be
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

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(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.”

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House fire on S. Langley Street (Photo via @Sooo_Sick)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

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