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The Pentagon City Metro station (file photo)

Update at 2:55 p.m. — Metro is single-tracking past the station and expected to resume normal service soon, with fire department units clearing from the scene.

Blue Line service has been suspended at Pentagon City due to a small fire producing smoky conditions at the station.

Arlington County firefighters are on scene. The fire — reportedly caused by trash catching on fire behind a wall — is reported to be out but there’s still residual smoke in the tunnels.

The fire department activity is also said to be affecting traffic in the area.

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Ireland’s Four Courts boarded up on 9/15/22 (staff photo)

The following article was supported by the ARLnow Press Club. Join today to help us do more in-depth local reporting.

Storefront safety is now top-of-mind for Ireland’s Four Courts after a rideshare driver plowed into the pub and sparked a fire, seriously injuring several people.

While those injured were inside the restaurant, safety advocates say this crash demonstrates why many have concerns about outdoor dining and nightlife, as well as traffic configurations that rely on everyone driving perfectly. For Four Courts, the crash is a chance to rebuild with a greater focus on safety.

“Since the accident, storefront and patio safety is most definitely our highest priority as we plan our reopening,” Managing Partner Dave Cahill said. “I think installing safety bollards in the front of business locations like ours would eliminate the risk of vehicles crashing into buildings and pedestrians.”

Arlington County is more than a year into an initiative to eliminate traffic fatalities and serious injuries. But because storefront crashes like this one are so rare, they aren’t the focus of Vision Zero efforts, according to the county. Instead, this initiative to eliminate traffic serious injuries and fatalities focuses on locations within Arlington’s High Injury Network.

“These types of crashes are often high-profile, but are uncommon,” says Dept. of Environmental Services spokeswoman Katie O’Brien.

Since 2017, 0.25% of total critical crashes, or 32 out of 13,035, involved a driver hitting a building. Two of these crashes — excluding the Courthouse crash — involved a visible, but not severe, injury, while the remainder resulted in property damage only.

Still, it has restaurateur David Guas, of Bayou Bakery, who watched the crash happen, thinking more about safety as well.

“Witnessing it first hand, I had a flash in the pan thought, ‘someone could’ve come down N. Veitch and into Bayou,'” he said. “Technically, it could happen, especially if this is a freak medical emergency.”

Police announced last month that the rideshare driver who drove straight in to the long-time pub likely suffered a medical emergency and will not face charges.

Risk factors

There are a lot of factors that put people at risk near storefronts, according to Storefront Safety Council cofounder Rob Reiter.

“Outdoor dining is inherently more risky,” says Reiter. “Speeds are up everywhere and… you’re always one drunk away from someone accelerating into a crowd.”

Nationally, based on statistics the council has compiled from news reports, court records and studies, the most common reasons are operator error and pedal confusion, followed by drunk driving.

Storefront crash causes (via Storefront Safety Council)

In Arlington, of the serious crashes into a building, almost 30% involved a drunk driver, O’Brien said.

A driver suffering a “medical event” in a crash, as is believed to have happened with Four Courts, is fairly common, Reiter says. Council data indicate medical events make up 9% of storefront crashes.

The bigger issue here, Reiter said, is that the pub sits at a “T” intersection.

These are common in Arlington, in areas of low speed limits and multiple traffic signals and traffic signs, O’Brien said. The intersection ending in Ireland’s Four Courts “was and is being looked at for redesign, as is standard,” she added.

Another hairy traffic configuration is when perpendicular parking abuts the entrance to a store, said another Storefront Safety Council cofounder, Mark Wright, who was hit 14 years ago by a woman who rolled through a parking spot and into the 7-Eleven he was exiting.

While it is convenient, Wright said, “it’s a very risky parking arrangement and obviously parking is a critical component of any thriving, successful shopping center.”

Per Storefront Safety Council data, 23% of crashes involved retail stores and 19% involved restaurants.

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A house fire in the Old Glebe neighborhood last night sent one person to the hospital.

The fire happened on N. Upland Street between N. Glebe Road and 38th Street N. around 5:30 p.m. Initial reports suggest that a plumber accidentally sliced an electrical line, injuring them and sparking a fire.

Firefighters extinguished the flames, brought the injured worker to a nearby hospital via ambulance, and worked to clear out some of the smoke from the home.

Several vans from a local plumbing company could be seen parked in front of the residence.

A fire department spokesman said the injured person had non-life-threatening injuries, but was unable to confirm the exact circumstances.

“The Arlington County Fire Department was dispatched around 5:35pm for a reported structure fire in the 3800 block of N. Upland Street,” Capt. Nate Hiner told ARLnow. “Crews arrived quickly and found a small fire that was swiftly extinguished. The origin and cause remain under investigation by our Fire Prevention Office. [One] civilian was transported to an area hospital with non-life threatening injuries.”

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Smoke from the shed fire in Green Valley (photo courtesy anonymous)

(Updated at 4:10 p.m.) A shed next to a house caught fire and filled a portion of the Green Valley neighborhood with smoke this afternoon.

The blaze prompted a large fire department response to the 2400 block of S. Oakland Street but firefighters later determined that the flames had not spread to the house, according to scanner traffic. The fire has since been extinguished.

Despite the main house not catching on fire, the blaze has displaced seven residents, according to the Arlington County Fire Department. One person was taken to a local hospital in stable condition, ACFD said.

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Fire response at Mt. Olivet Methodist Church (photo via ACFD)

Mt. Olivet Methodist Church suffered about $1 million in damage as a result of an early morning fire on Friday.

That’s according to the Arlington County Fire Department, which also said in a press release today (Monday) that the cause of the fire in the church’s attic “remains undetermined.”

From ACFD:

At approximately 2:42 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 14, 2022, the Arlington County Fire Department responded to a reported structure fire in the 1500 block of N. Glebe Road.

Units quickly arrived on the scene and found fire through the roof of the structure. Due to significant smoke conditions and amount of work required to extinguish the fire, a second alarm was quickly requested bringing additional firefighters to the scene. The fire was extinguished within 30 minutes of dispatch time, and firefighters then worked carefully to remove material from the area of origin to fully check for hot spots or any fire extension.

Units from the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department, Alexandria Fire Department, and Joint Base Myer – Henderson Hall Fire Department assisted on this incident.

The Arlington County Fire Prevention Office conducted a thorough origin and cause investigation and concluded that the fire started in the attic space; currently the cause remains undetermined. Initial estimated damages are $1,000,000.

Located at 1500 N. Glebe Road, just north of Ballston, Mt. Olivet is built on the oldest church site in continuous use in Arlington.

There’s no word yet on when services inside the church might resume. Mt. Olivet’s pastor said the sanctuary and preschool wings of the church were not damaged, though the music and education wing likely has “extensive smoke and water damage.”

The church held an outdoor worship service on Sunday, as covered by NBC 4.

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There was a fire early this morning at Mt. Olivet Methodist Church, the oldest church site in continuous use in Arlington.

The fire broke out at the church, located at 1500 N. Glebe Road near Ballston, before 3 a.m. and prompted a two-alarm response. Flames could be seen coming from the roof of the building, according to scanner traffic.

“The fire began in the attic above the music and education wing. Thankfully no one was in the building and there are no injuries,” the church said in an update posted by its pastor this morning. “There is likely extensive smoke and water damage to that part of the building. The sanctuary and preschool wings were not harmed.”

Sunday morning worship will not be held in the building but the church says it is working on an alternate plan.

The Arlington County Fire Department is currently investigating the cause of the blaze, which was extinguished by firefighters before it could spread to other parts of the building.

The full update from the church is below.

Dear Mount Olivet Family,

You have likely heard the news of a fire at Mount Olivet early this morning, Friday, October 14.

The fire began in the attic above the music and education wing. Thankfully no one was in the building and there are no injuries.

Thanks to many fire fighters and first responders from Arlington, Fairfax, and Falls Church, the fire has been extinguished.

There is likely extensive smoke and water damage to that part of the building. The sanctuary and preschool wings were not harmed.

Due to the ongoing nature of this situation, we will not be able to hold worship in our building this Sunday morning. Once we know what our plan will be for Sunday morning worship and beyond, we will let you know!

Currently, the building is not secure and the fire investigation is on going. Please do not enter the building until further notice.

We are beyond grateful that no one was injured and this was no worse than it is, but we still ask that you be in prayer for our community, clergy, and staff as we navigate the following days and weeks.

Grace and Peace,
Pastor Sara

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(Updated at 2:40 p.m.) The rideshare driver who crashed into Ireland’s Four Courts in Courthouse last month likely experienced “a medical emergency” before driving into the building, police say.

This preliminary explanation comes after Arlington County police previously ruled out drunk driving as well as malicious intent.

The crash set fire to the popular pub, situated next to the “T” intersection of N. Courthouse Road and Wilson Blvd, during a local company’s happy hour event. It triggered a large emergency response and road closures as people fled the fiery scene. More than a dozen people were hurt.

Police said today that all three pub-goers who were hospitalized with serious, potentially life-threatening injuries have now been released — a little over a month after they were admitted. One patient was still in critical condition and two others were in stable condition within a week of the crash.

The seriously injured people are expected to undergo a rehabilitation process as they continue to recover, we’re told.

In all, 15 people were injured, including nine brought to local hospitals. Of them, three were Four Courts employees hospitalized for less serious injuries, including smoke inhalation.

Four Courts Managing Partner Dave Cahill told ARLnow that the patrons who were seriously injured may not have survived but for other quick-thinking fellow pub-goers, including a volunteer firefighter, as well as first responders who arrived on scene just moments after the crash.

“Our thoughts and prayers have been with them for this whole time,” Cahill said of the victims. “They’re regulars who come in here all the time… we’re happy that they’ve started the next stage of recovery.”

Building inspectors determined that Four Courts is structurally sound but not fit for occupancy due to the extensive damage.

The pub is planning to rebuild, funded in part by a now-closed GoFundMe campaign that blew well past its $50,000 goal, raising just over $95,000. Tonight, fellow Arlington Irish pub Samuel Beckett’s (2800 S. Randolph Street) is hosting a fundraiser and silent auction for Four Courts staff.

Cahill told ARLnow today that insurance and other matters are still being worked out before construction can begin that would allow at least part of the pub to reopen. If demolition starts soon, he said, the best case scenario would be reopening in late spring or early summer of 2023.

When the doors swing back open, he wants customers to feel like nothing has changed, and for regulars to request the same TV channels and sit in the same seats they’ve sat in for years.

“We’re going to work and recreate Four Courts as close back to the original as possible,” he said. “We don’t want people to walk in here and think they’re in a different place. Things will be updated, obviously, but we want people to feel at home in the Four Courts.”

The only thing that many repeat customers would miss would be their personal mugs. Four Courts had a mug club with more than 1,475 mugs people purchased; added their names, football team logos and family crests to; and drank from whenever they came in.

“We lost a lot of mugs,” he said. “When the fire came, it melted the mug and left the handle. We’re sad about that. That was a big part of the brand.”

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The four people reported to be seriously injured when a car plowed into Ireland’s Four Courts last night may not have survived but for the quick actions of fellow pub-goers and first responders.

That’s according to Dave Cahill, long-time manager of the Courthouse fixture, which remains closed after last night’s crash and fire.

At last check, the four critically injured people were still hospitalized, but the hope is all four will pull through, we’re told. Cahill tells ARLnow that all three Four Courts employees who were injured and brought to the hospital have since been released.

The crash happened around 6:45 p.m. Friday, as people were gathered near the front of the pub for a local company’s happy hour event.

A gray Toyota Camry — ARLnow has heard from multiple sources that it was being operated as a rideshare vehicle — reportedly came speeding up N. Courthouse Road and drove through the “T” intersection, slamming directly into the pub. It was nearly 20 feet inside the business, Cahill said, and started to catch fire almost immediately.

Quick-thinking customers sprang into action, coming from the back of the restaurant to the smoldering wreckage to help severely injured customers, the driver, and at least one passenger of the car, who was also hurt. Photos taken as fire started to engulf the car and the pub show several people carrying one man — who can be seen in a photo taken seconds earlier slumped over in front of the car — to safety outside.

Police and firefighters arrived on scene as employees and customers were still trying to flee the pub. Photos and a TikTok video show police officers running into Four Courts as smoke billowed out. In frantic police radio transmissions, first arriving officers requested “a lot of ambulances” and reported “a lot of people” still inside the restaurant as fire spread.

“It’s an image I’ll never forget,” said Cahill.

Without customers risking their own safety to save the injured, and without the lightning-fast response of police and medics — ACPD headquarters is a couple of blocks from Four Courts and a fire station is a short distance down Wilson Blvd — “it could have been a lot worse,” he said.

Also helping: the pub was significantly less crowded than usual for a Friday, a server told NBC 4.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone who was hurt,” said Cahill.  Asked about when the pub might reopen, Cahill said “we’re not thinking about it right now.”

Building inspectors determined that Four Courts is structurally sound but not fit for occupancy due to the extensive damage. Photos of the interior from this morning, shared with ARLnow, show a vast swath of charred flooring, fixtures and ceiling near the front of the pub.

The car, meanwhile, was removed from inside and hauled away on a flatbed tow truck early this morning. Video shows heavy front-end damage from the collision.

Cahill said management will start to assess repairs and future plans next week, but noted that the kitchen and the newer rear of the pub is largely intact. The current hope is that insurance will help to pay employees and keep them on staff.

A GoFundMe page, which Cahill says was set up by a regular customer, will also help. As of publication it has raised more than $7,500 of a $50,000 goal.

A total of 14 people were injured, including eight who were brought to local hospitals, police and fire officials said last night. There’s still no word on what led to the crash.

Update at 4 p.m. — The Arlington County police and fire departments just issued the following joint statement. Two of the victims remain in critical condition, the statement says, while the other two seriously injured people have been stabilized.

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(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.

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(Updated at 2 p.m.) Wilson Blvd is blocked at N. Fillmore Street due to a reported fire in a commercial building in Clarendon.

Initial reports suggest a small fire broke out on or just below the roof of one of the businesses — reportedly nightlife venue Wilson Hardware — along the 2900 block of Wilson Blvd. Firefighters are on the scene, with ladders stretched to the roof of the building, and have reportedly extinguished the flames.

No injuries or significant damage has been reported, though some smoke has been reported in the business. Firefighters are working to make sure the fire hasn’t spread elsewhere.

Most fire department units are now clearing the scene and Wilson Blvd should be reopening shortly.

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Firefighters on scene of an electrical incident that resulted in serious injury near Pentagon City (photo via ACFD)

An electrical worker is fighting for his or her life after an incident this morning near Pentagon City.

Firefighters were called to The Representative condominium tower at 1101 S. Arlington Ridge Road around 9:30 a.m. for a report of an electrocution and a fire on the roof, according to scanner traffic. The fire was out by the time crews reached the scene but two injured workers were found and taken to the hospital.

On social media, the Arlington County Fire Department described what happened as a “small electrical fire.” The reported injuries, however, were serious, ACFD said — one worker had critical injuries while another had serious but non-life threatening injuries.

The Arlington County fire marshal’s office is investigating what happened alongside occupational safety authorities, ACFD said.

The road in front of the condo building was at least partially blocked earlier today as a result of the sizable emergency response.

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