Press Club
Massive house fire on Chain Bridge Road, as seen from D.C. (via @jlilley626/Twitter)

(Updated at 1:25 p.m.) The long-time mansion of former Virginia Senator Chuck Robb is ablaze just over the Arlington border.

Firefighters from Arlington and Fairfax counties were dispatched to the home on the 600 block of Chain Bridge Road just after 11:30 p.m. Arriving firefighters reported fire throughout the first floor of the home, which quickly spread to upper floors and the roof.

The massive blaze could be seen from across the Potomac in both D.C. and Maryland, while a haze and the smell of smoke wafted over Arlington neighborhoods more than a mile away.

Chain Bridge Road is closed in both directions due to the emergency activity, which now also involves units from the Montgomery County, Maryland fire department.

According to scanner traffic, both occupants of the house made it out, but may have suffered minor burns and smoke inhalation. They were taken to a local hospital via ambulance.

Due to heavy fire, firefighters were only able to battle the blaze from outside the home. Around midnight, units on the scene reported that trees near the house were starting to catch fire.

The mansion has been owned by Sen. Robb and his wife Lynda, daughter of former president Lyndon B. Johnson, since the 1970s, property records show. In the 1990s a large addition brought the brick home overlooking the Potomac to nearly 20,000 square feet and 19 bedrooms, according to a newspaper report at the time.

The home is likely to be a total or near-total loss.

Robb, 82, published a memoir earlier this year. He also served as governor of Virginia from 1982-1986.

The stretch of Chain Bridge Road around the fire includes some of the priciest homes in the D.C. area. On either side of the Robb property is a sprawling estate owned by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and The Falls, an estate on the Arlington side of the border that sold for $45 million in 2020. Arlington fire units were dispatched to that heavily-guarded property, which features a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed guest house and whose buyer was never publicly revealed, for a report of smoke alarms going off during the firefighting effort next door.

More via social media:

On Wednesday, Gov. Ralph Northam said he was “saddened” by the fire, a sentiment echoed by other Virginia elected leaders.

The governor’s office also released the following statement from the Robb family.

The residence of former Governor Chuck Robb and former Virginia First Lady Lynda Robb sustained major damage Tuesday evening as fire engulfed their home of nearly 50 years.

The Robb family confirmed their parents had no life-threatening injuries and had been transported by ambulance to the hospital. They were the only occupants at the time of the fire.

“Our entire family is deeply grateful to the firefighters for their rapid response and the medical professionals who are taking care of them,” said the three daughters of Charles and Lynda Robb. “We have what is most important to us — our mom and dad.”

Hat tip to Alan Henney

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Morning Notes

An airplane taxis after landing at Reagan National Airport (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Calling 911 Over Leaf Blowers — Writes a former Arlington County 911 dispatcher, regarding a recent ARLnow opinion column about leaf blower noise: “Hard hitting stuff coming out of ArCo, as always. I remember taking a 911 call once where the caller complained about this very issue and, in an effort to get police dispatched, called his neighbour’s leaf-blower a ‘violent weapon.’ This county is truly deranged.” [Twitter]

New Drug Recovery Resource — “For individuals having difficulty with substance use, the first step to a better life involves withdrawing  from alcohol or drugs. The new Arlington Recovery Center – a partnership between the County and National Capital Treatment and Recovery (NCTR) – is ready to help people with that journey. Arlington Recovery Center opened its doors this year and includes both Withdrawal Management and Early Recovery programs.” [Arlington County]

Book About Arlington House’s Builder — “Arlington journalist, historian and author Charles S. (‘Charlie’) Clark recently penned ‘George Washington Parke Custis: A Rarefied Life in America’s First Family.’ The book chronicles the complicated life of Custis (1781-1857), who was raised at Mount Vernon – he was the grandson of Martha Washington and step-grandson of George Washington – and in adulthood was responsible for the construction of the Arlington House estate using both free and enslaved workers.” [Sun Gazette]

VHC Expanding With McLean Building — “Virginia Hospital Center is charging ahead with its campus expansion while growing its ambulatory footprint — starting with a $34.5 million purchase in McLean. The Arlington health system has purchased a building at 1760 Old Meadow Road where it’s setting up an orthopedic outpatient surgery center, according to VHC CEO Jim Cole. The hospital is now renovating a 14,900-square-foot area of existing building in a project expected to cost $6.4 million including construction and equipment.” [Washington Business Journal]

Crossing Guard Spreads Thanksgiving Cheer — From Williamsburg Middle School Principal Bryan Boykin: “Mr. La is bringing a little holiday flavor to his traffic duties,” thanks to a large turkey costume. [Twitter]

New Tech Repair Store in Pentagon City — “Leading tech repair provider uBreakiFix by Asurion has opened its newest location in Pentagon City at 1101 S. Joyce St., Suite B-12 on Pentagon Row. The store offers professional repair services for anything with a power button, from smartphones, tablets, and computers to game consoles, smart speakers, and drones-and everything in between.” [Press Release]

Officials Urge Caution on the Roads — “The American Automobile Association predicts that 1.4 million Virginians will travel for this Thursday’s Thanksgiving holiday, which equates to 11 percent more motorists than in 2020. Virginia State Police urge patience for motorists planning to hit the roadways. ‘With traffic on the roads increasing and many people anxious to get to their destination, I encourage all Virginians to be patient. Buckle up and take your time,’ said Col. Gary Settle, Virginia State Police superintendent.” [Sun Gazette]

It’s Wednesday — Today will be sunny, with a high near 47. Sunrise at 7:01 a.m. and sunset at 4:48 p.m. Thanksgiving day will be mostly sunny, with a high near 55. Showers early Friday morning, then mostly sunny, with a high near 46. We will not be publishing Thursday but will be back with a light publishing schedule on Friday.

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Morning Notes

Free Vax Shots for Kids Ages 12-15 — “Arlington County will begin to administer free COVID-19 vaccines to children ages 12-15 years of age who live or are schooled in Arlington beginning Saturday, May 15. This follows the expansion of Pfizer’s Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to children 12 and over… Approximately 8,000 children aged 12-15 live in Arlington. Arlington will offer Saturday through Monday clinics over the next two weekends for children 12-17 years of age to help meet anticipated demand for the vaccine.” [Arlington County]

Blowback Over Summer School Limits — “Arlington school leaders are getting abuse from both ends when it comes to criticism of newly announced summer-school restrictions. A group that has pressed Arlington schools leaders for a faster reopening of classes says new limitations show a continued lack of leadership, while at the same time the Arlington Education Association is blasting school leaders for throwing teachers under the bus on the issue.” [Sun Gazette, NBC 4]

Neighborhood ‘Toolkits’ on Race — “Arlington County today released a set of new tools to help advance racial equity efforts in Arlington. The collection of neighborhood toolkits and data dashboards are products of the County’s Realizing Arlington’s Commitment to Equity (RACE) program… The Toolkits for Conversations on Race & Equity are self-guided programs that can be used to spark conversations with family, friends, and neighbors.” [Arlington County]

Lubber Run Performances Return — “After being closed for the entirety of the summer 2020 season due to the pandemic, the Arlington County government’s Lubber Run Amphitheatre will host free programming in July and August. Performances will be Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., Sundays at 11 a.m. The season opens with blues singer-songwriter Chris Pierce performing on Friday, July 9.” [Sun Gazette]

Beyer Suicide Bill Passes — “You’ve heard of 911 for emergencies and 411 for information. Now the House of Representatives is debating a bill that could educate people about a new number for the National Suicide Hotline, 988. Colleen Creighton at the American Association of Suicidology says a bill introduced by Congressman Don Beyer will help spread the word about the new hotline.” [WVTF, Twitter]

Nearby: New Owner for McLean Shopping Center — “McLean’s Chesterbrook Shopping Center has changed hands for the first time since the early 1980s… ‘Chesterbrook Center is well positioned for significant growth and perfectly aligns with our Northern Virginia strategy,’ Barry Carty, Federal Realty’s senior vice president of East Coast acquisitions, said.” [Tysons Reporter]

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Locals should avoid contact with Little Pimmit Run north of Williamsburg Blvd due to a sewage leak.

A leak in a sanitary sewer line may be contaminating the stream, the county said Tuesday afternoon in an Arlington Alert.

“Due to a sanitary line leak, avoid contact with Little Pimmit Run downstream of Williamsburg Blvd,” the county said. “Crew on scene addressing the issue. Unknown completion time.”

Little Pimmit Run winds through Upper Pimmit Run Park, near Jamestown Elementary, as well as other portions of North Arlington and McLean. It flows into Pimmit Run near the GW Parkway, before making its way into the Potomac River near Chain Bridge.

Photo (2) via Google Maps

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Morning Notes

Developer May Build Second Metro Entrance — “A plan submitted by developer JBG Smith to Arlington County could see the company put in charge of building the second Crystal City Metro station entrance, a long-sought-after project that would increase access to the station. If approved, the new entrance would be built along Crystal Drive near 18th Street.” [Greater Greater Washington]

Glebe Road Crash Yesterday Morning — “Police say the crash was caused by a driver attempting to merge onto southbound Glebe from 16th Street S. striking another vehicle heading southbound. No significant injuries were reported.” [Twitter]

Company Opens New HQ in Ballston — “Armor Express, a leading manufacturer and distributor of high-performance protective solutions for the Domestic and Federal Law Enforcement markets, Department of Defense and First Responders, today announced the grand opening of its new corporate headquarters in Arlington, VA.” [Globe Newswire]

Video: Olli on Fort Myer — New videos show the Olli autonomous shuttle driving around Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall. [Twitter]

New Funding for 9/11 Victim Fund — “U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) today applauded the passage of a bill to continue providing financial support to those who suffered physical harm or families of those who were killed as a result of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks or ensuing debris removal efforts.” [Press Release, NBC News]

Nearby: Boy Dies at McLean Construction Site — A boy died after a ditch collapsed at a large excavation site in McLean, near the Arlington border and Jamestown Elementary. The boy was reportedly working to build a sewage line at a new residential development. [Tysons Reporter, NBC 4]

Flickr pool photo by Tom Mockler

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Morning Notes

Residents Support HQ2 in Letters — “Many Arlingtonians want Amazon.com Inc. to set up HQ2 in Crystal City and Pentagon City — or at least that is what a slew of letters and emails to the [Arlington County Board] seems to indicate… ‘I would say the theme of the emails is: ‘Don’t blow it,” [Libby] Garvey said.” [Washington Business Journal]

Expect Fireworks at County Board Meeting — “Board Chair Christian Dorsey (D) said he has ‘no interest’ in postponing [this weekend’s Amazon] vote and has heard no suggestions to do so from other board members. He expects the measure to pass, but he also said anywhere from 100 to 400 speakers could show up for the public hearing before the vote.” [Washington Post]

More on Expected HQ2 Jobs — “While Amazon has said about half of the 25,000 HQ2 jobs here will be tech-related, we now know a bit more about the breakdown, thanks to a Thursday talk by Ardine Williams, vice president of people operations for the company, to high schoolers.” [Washington Business Journal]

Extended Comcast Outage — Much of Arlington lost its Comcast cable and internet service for several hours Sunday. [Twitter]

More Trouble for Trustify — “Real estate investment trust JBG Smith Properties Inc. is heading to court to try to collect on a $263,477.21 judgment against one of its tenants, private investigation startup Trustify. The Chevy Chase developer won an ‘unlawful detainer’ judgment against the company Jan. 31, allowing it to evict Trustify from its main office at 200 12th St. South in Crystal City.” [Washington Business Journal]

ACFD Helped Battle McLean Fire — Arlington County firefighters helped to extinguish a house fire in McLean over the weekend. One resident died in the blaze. [Tysons Reporter]

Flickr pool photo by Rex Block

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Morning Notes

Vida Fitness Coming to Rosslyn Development — “Vida Fitness has signed a lease for 27,000 square feet at The Highlands in Rosslyn… The Highlands is a 1.2-million-square-foot mixed-use development from D.C.-based developer Penzance. The project’s groundbreaking [was Wednesday] and the first phase is slated for completion in the second quarter of 2021.” [Commercial Observer, Twitter]

Naked Man at Va. Square Metro Station — A naked man walked into the Virginia Square Metro station during yesterday evening’s rush hour. Police quickly responded, took the man into custody and requested medics to the scene to evaluate him for a possible drug overdose. [Twitter]

Survey: Road Improvements Wanted — “The public has an improving view of the Arlington government’s commitment to care of local roads, but there continues to be significant room for improvement, according to an updated customer-satisfaction survey. Only 55 percent of residents surveyed believe county roads are in satisfactory condition, while 23 percent are unsatisfied with the local government’s efforts and 23 percent are on the fence.” [InsideNova]

Stabbing on Patrick Henry Drive — A person was stabbed along the 3000 block of Patrick Henry Drive near the Arlington border last night. The victim’s injuries were reported to be life threatening, according to Fairfax County Police, which used its helicopter in an attempt to find the suspect. [WJLA, Twitter]

No Lottery Jackpot, But… — A $10,000 Mega Millions lottery ticket was sold at a 7-Eleven store in South Arlington. A single ticket in South Carolina matched all the numbers for the $1.6 billion jackpot in Tuesday’s drawing. [InsideNova]

Nearby: McLean Islamic Center Vs. Zoning Restrictions — The McLean Islamic Center is challenging county-imposed restrictions on worship and parking, which limit attendance “to mitigate the MIC’s impact on the surrounding neighborhood.” [Tysons Reporter] 

Flickr pool photo by Michael Coffman

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Curious Students. Expert Teachers. Endless Potential.  

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Saturday, November 4 | 10 a.m.
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Fairfax County police car lightsTwo people were shot during a drive-by shooting in McLean early Sunday morning, following a fight at a party in Arlington.

The shooting occurred on Dolley Madison Boulevard (Route 123), near the entrance to the GW Parkway, around 4 a.m.

“Preliminary information suggests that this incident stemmed from an altercation between several people at a party somewhere in Arlington County earlier in the night,” Fairfax County Police said in a press release. “One group left the party in a vehicle and when they reached Dolley Madison Boulevard and Kirby Road, another vehicle pulled alongside and fired several shots, striking two occupants in the first vehicle. The unidentified suspect vehicle then fled the scene.”

“Little is known about the two victims at this point, other than they drove themselves to a local hospital with non-life-threatening injuries,” the press release continued. “There is no suspect or vehicle description at this time.”

The Fairfax County Police helicopter assisted with the response to the shooting, but was unable to locate the suspects. Police are asking that anyone with information about the shooting call them at 703-691-2131 or Crime Solvers at 1-866-411-8477

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Alecia and Andrew Schmuhl (photos via FCPD)The man who held a local attorney and his wife captive in their McLean home for hours, torturing them and slashing their throats, has been found guilty on all charges.

Springfield resident Andrew Schmuhl, 33, now faces a maximum sentence of life in prison. The sentencing will begin Thursday.

Schmuhl’s wife, Alecia, will face trial in September for her role in the attack, which allegedly stemmed from her firing from the Courthouse-based law firm Bean, Kinney & Korman. Victim Leo Fisher was the partner in the firm who fired Schmuhl.

The firm released the following press release about the verdict Tuesday evening.

We are grateful that the jury’s guilty verdicts in the prosecution of Andrew Schmuhl for his brutal assault of our friend and colleague, Leo Fisher, and his wife Sue Duncan, mark the beginning of closure for them. This was a horrific ordeal no one can fully grasp. We appreciate the enormous effort made by the Commonwealth’s Attorney and his office to present a compelling case that has produced a just result, and the hard work of the law enforcement professionals who brought the facts to light. We trust that the jury will now recommend a sentence commensurate with the defendant’s atrocities.

The firm remains deeply indebted to its friends, clients, colleagues and fellow professionals for their constant well-wishes and support throughout this process.

With the conclusion of the sentencing proceedings, Leo may add his comments to those of the firm, but we ask that his and Sue’s continued privacy be respected. Otherwise, as the prosecution of Alecia Schmuhl is continuing, no further comment will be provided from anyone with the firm, apart from our desire that an appropriate outcome in her case will also be achieved.

About Bean, Kinney & Korman, P.C.

For more than 50 years, Bean, Kinney & Korman has been a leading Northern Virginia law firm that has continuously grown and diversified to meet the increasingly complex legal needs of its expanding community of clients. Bean, Kinney & Korman provides business/corporate and individual services among a wide range of practice areas.  For more information, visit http://www.beankinney.com.

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Morning Notes

Evening rush hour traffic on S. Walter Reed Drive

Office Vacancy Down in Arlington — Arlington has had a 1.6 percent positive net absorption of commercial office space so far this year. Crystal City in particular has done well, gaining 313,000 square feet of occupancy. [Bisnow]

History Plan for Arlington Centennial — Arlington County is seeking public comment on the mid-term report produced by the Arlington History Task Force. The task force is trying to come up with a plan for preserving Arlington’s history, in time for the county’s centennial in 2020. [Arlington County]

McLean Up in Arms Over Gun Store — Nova Firearms, the gun store that tried unsuccessfully to open a store in Cherrydale, has moved its McLean store to a larger location but is now incurring the wrath of a group of residents. Parents object to the fact that the new store is behind a local elementary school, in view of at least one classroom. [Washington Post]

Gym Responds to String of Sexual Assaults — Responding to a string of attacks on women in Arlington, including a sexual assault near Rosslyn over the weekend, the Nova MMA CrossFit gym is offering a free self-defense seminar on Wednesday, Oct. 28 from 7-9 p.m. [MyFoxDC]

Road Closures for Army Ten-Miler — Route 110, the northbound I-395 HOV lanes, S. Eads Street, Army Navy Drive, Long Bridge Drive and Washington Blvd are among the roads in Arlington that will be closed Sunday morning for the annual Army Ten-Miler race. [Arlington County]

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