AFD Extinguishes Fire on N. West Street — “Engine 205 and surrounding companies made quick work of a small kitchen fire in the 300 Block of N. West Street.” [Twitter]
Health Department Warns Against Misinformation — “Along with our city partners and fantastic Medical Reserve Corps volunteers, we need you, community members, to help share accurate information and dispel the fear that can be seductive and paralyzing.” [Alex Times]
Parkway Classic Postponed — “Considering the current uncertainty and plausibility of continued restrictions on events, we are working closely with our partners on an alternate date for our 36th Annual PNC Parkway Classic originally slated for April 26th.” [PNC Parkway Classic]
West End Fitness Center to Open this Summer — “A dedicated and certified fitness expert will guide you through our workout, which changes daily to keep the body guessing and prevent plateau.” [Alexandria Living]
Alexandria YMCA Suspends Operations — “The YMCA of Metropolitan Washington will suspend operations at all YMCA facilities located in Maryland at 5pm today, Monday, March 16th; and in Northern Virginia and in the District of Columbia at the close of business, Monday, March 16, 2020. At this moment, we plan to reopen all YMCA facilities as soon as it is permitted by the government officials and upheld by the guidance of health organizations.” [YMCA]
Mayor Asks Landlords to Ease Restrictions — “Although it is still a couple of weeks before April rents will be due, I would ask that you consider now what you can do to ease burdens for tenants who will have difficulty paying their next rent because of illness or financial hardship related to ongoing business disruptions and closures.” [Facebook]
Questions About Homicide Arrest at T.C. — “Because Aly’s arrest was part of an ongoing criminal investigation, Virginia State Police, the lead law enforcement agency on the case, haven’t released details about his connection to the crime. But some parents and students have sought answers to different questions: Why did the arrest take place at school, and what happened at the school that day?” [Alexandria Times]
Rec Registration Starts Next Week — “Registration for spring and summer classes and activities offered by the City of Alexandria’s Department of Recreation, Parks and Cultural Activities will begin at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, March 18 for City residents and Friday, March 20 for nonresidents. Spring and summer registration applies to classes, leagues and activities occurring April through August 2020.” [City of Alexandria]
Controlled Burn Leads to Hazy Sunday — Across much of the D.C. area Sunday afternoon, smoke from a controlled burn at Marine Corps Base Quantico led to temporary hazy conditions outside and a “campfire” smell. [ARLnow]
“Moonlight and Magnolias” at Little Theatre Until March 21 — “It’s Hollywood, 1939. Legendary film producer David O. Selznick is five weeks into shooting ‘Gone with the Wind’ when he realizes the script is awful and the director doesn’t have a clue. He has a few short days to replace them and restart shooting or the production will shut down.” [Gazette]
Nominations Open For Chamber of Commerce’s 40 Under 40 — “The 40 under 40 class celebrate 40 outstanding leaders and innovators who either live or work within the city of Alexandria. The nomination period closes March 13, 2020. Go to www.thechamberalx.com/young-leaders-network.html to nominate a leader for this honor.” [Alexandria Living]
Alexandria firefighters are on scene of a car fire on I-395.
The engine of an SUV caught fire in the northbound lanes of the highway, between Seminary Road and King Street. Firefighters are currently working to extinguish the fire.
Two mainline lanes of northbound I-395 are currently blocked. According to scanner traffic, police are currently looking for the driver, who reportedly ran off.
— Sue June Kim (@skimmylatte) February 25, 2020
T.C. Football Coach Steps Down — “James Longerbeam stepped down as head coach of the T.C. Williams High School football team on Feb. 3. Longerbeam has served as head coach since 2016, when he moved from Panama City, Florida to Alexandria to take the position. He cited his father’s recent passing and his mother’s dementia as reasons for his decision in a Facebook post.” [Alexandria Times]
Local Doctor Helps the Homeless — “Dr. William Mazzella has a message for the homeless living on the streets of Alexandria, Virginia. ‘I have the medicines,’ Mazzella said. ‘I have the bandages, the training, and I’m here to help you if you will have me…’ He has formed a nonprofit called MedStreet, which is accepting donations and seeking volunteers to help continue his work and help more people.” [WTOP]
Old Town Chocolate Shop Reveals Shape Secrets — “The owners of a Northern Virginia chocolate shop are urging customers to be aware of what’s in a box of chocolates before making a purchase this Valentine’s Day. If the customer’s preference is chewy over gooey caramels, it might be wise to consider rectangular-shaped versus square candy from a heart-shaped holiday box… said Robert Ludlow, who co-owns Alexandria, Virginia, shop Fleurir Chocolates.” [WTOP]
Investigators Reveal Massive Fire’s Cause, Cost — The massive fire at the South Alex development along Route 1 “started in the second-floor trash chute of the residential portion of a multi-use complex. The cause of the fire was improperly discarded smoking materials. Damage figures include the total loss of the main buildings under construction, 14 townhouses, and one trailer. The amount also includes damage to five apartment buildings, 14 additional townhouses, four single family homes, 29 vehicles, and multiple pieces of construction equipment. Damage total as a result of the fire is $48,171,075.” [Fairfax County Fire and Rescue]
Huge Fire South of Alexandria — “A large fire in Fairfax County destroyed an unfinished development of apartments and retail stores Saturday, shutting down traffic along Route 1 for several hours while firefighters battled the blaze and thick black smoke that could be seen for several miles.” Alexandria firefighters, along with firefighters from other nearby jurisdictions, responded to the scene as mutual aid. [Washington Post, NBC 4, Twitter]
T.C. Williams Lights Trial Delayed — “The trial to determine whether Alexandria City Public Schools can add lights to T.C. Williams High School’s new football stadium has been postponed from Feb. 24 to June 8, Lars Liebeler, the attorney for the plaintiffs, said… Residents from six of the neighboring households filed an original complaint in August 2018.” [Alexandria Times]
History of the Oakland Baptist Church — “Longing for their own church, they organized themselves and built Oak Hill Baptist Church in 1888. The men would leave work on their day jobs, go directly to the building site of the church, and start working. They would continue building the church after work on the weekends week after week until the church was finished.” [Zebra]
City Writes Off Thousands in Unpaid Taxes — “In the last decade, Alexandria has written off more than $100,000 in uncollected tax balances. The annual write-off happens every November, just as City Council members are appearing with a giant turkey at City Hall to celebrate Thanksgiving.” [Gazette Packet]
Obit for Alexandria Scientist — “In the course of her lifetime, physician and activist Janette Sherman gave voice to countless — and often voiceless — victims of environmental toxins. She died this year on Nov. 7, in Alexandria, at age 89.” [WAMU]
Local Woman Stuck in Apartment — “An Alexandria woman who uses a wheelchair says she’s been stuck in her apartment this Christmas week because her building’s only elevator is broken down. Ami Francisco contacted 7 On Your Side after she says the Mason at Van Dorn apartment complex didn’t take her concerns seriously enough.” [WJLA]
Electrical Fire Costly for Convergence Church — “On October 31, Lisa and her staff faced one of their biggest challenges when an underground fire caused widespread damage to the facility’s electrical system… Convergence will likely not reopen until February. And until issues between the insurance and utility companies are resolved, Convergence has been saddled with over $40,000 in repairs.” [Zebra]
(Updated at 11:55 a.m.) A two-alarm apartment fire at 250 S. Van Dorn Street drew a large emergency response Thursday morning.
The fire was reported on the top floor of a four-story apartment building in the Landmark area, across from the Van Dorn Plaza shopping center, around 10:30 a.m. Smoke could be seen coming from the roof area, according to initial reports.
Firefighters from Alexandria, Fairfax County and Arlington responded to the scene. The fire was extinguished shortly before 11 a.m.
Thus far no injuries have been reported, but residents of several apartments are expected to be displaced due to fire, water and smoke damage.
2nd Alarm sounded, 200 Block of S Van Dorn Street, fire showing from a 4th floor apartment and thru the roof. Battalion 212 with the command.
— IAFF Local 2141 (@IAFFLocal2141) December 19, 2019
Amid the Van Dorn Street fire response, AFD alo responded to a small fire at a school in Old Town. The two simultaneous structure fire calls required some Arlington fire units to help fill in at Alexandria fire stations.
UPDATE: The Van Dorn Street fire is out. Firefighters are now also on scene of the Lyles-Crouch school at 530 S. St. Asaph Street, which has been evacuated after a fire in the boiler room, now reported to be out.
— ALXnow (@AlexandriaNow) December 19, 2019
(Updated at 3:40 p.m.) An apartment building in the West End filled with smoke Tuesday afternoon as a result of an electrical fire in the basement.
The fire was reported around 2 p.m. at the Foxchase Apartments, on the 100 block of N. Jordan Street, near Duke Street.
Firefighters extinguished the fire, but residents of the 11-unit apartment building will be temporarily displaced as a result of damage to the building’s electrical system. The power to the building has been shut off, a fire department spokeswoman said, and the apartment management company “will work on relocation for the affected occupants.”
A building inspector and the power company have responded to the scene.
Engine and Truck 208 along with surrounding companies arriving with smoke throughout an apartment building in the 100 Block of N Jordan Street. Crews have located an electrical fire on the basement level and are working to extinguish. Battalion 212 has the command.
— IAFF Local 2141 (@IAFFLocal2141) December 17, 2019
Map via Google Maps
The fire on the 400 block of E. Bellefonte Avenue was first reported just before 10 p.m. Arriving firefighters encountered heavy fire and sounded a second alarm.
The fire has since been extinguished, though a large emergency response remains on scene.
No injuries were reported. The Alexandria fire union said via Twitter that the fire is believed to have broken out in a dryer.
“Fire began in a dryer and extended through the walls into the cockloft area,” IAFF Local 2141 said via Twitter. “Crews worked quickly to keep the fire from spreading to multiple units.”
#Alert: Multiple units are assisting @AlexandriaVAFD with heavy fire in an apartment building near the 400blk of E Bellefonte Ave. A 2nd alarm has been requested. Follow @AlexandriaVAFD for updates. pic.twitter.com/lkziAaHWNo
— Arlington Fire (@ArlingtonVaFD) December 14, 2019
— IAFF Local 2141 (@IAFFLocal2141) December 14, 2019
Apartment Fire on N. Patrick Street — “A six-month-old infant was rescued by firefighters during an apartment fire early Thursday morning in Alexandria, Virginia. The fire also left 19 people displaced, according to the Red Cross. The child was taken to the hospital for observation, according to fire officials.” [WJLA]
Runner Traverses Entire City — “It’s been said that there’s no better way to discover a city than to explore it by foot. Alexandria resident Stephanie Lasure took that piece of advice to heart. Between November 2018 and September 2019, Lasure ran every single street in Alexandria, logging 330 miles total. In November, city council presented Lasure with a proclamation recognizing her efforts.” [Alexandria Times]
A Tale of Two Cities — “Taylor Run is about three miles from Arlandria. But it might as well be on the other side of the planet in terms of median household income. Census records show that the leafy suburban Taylor Run neighborhood, which is just behind the George Washington Masonic Memorial, has the highest median family income in Alexandria, more than $180,000 a year. The low-income neighborhood of Latino residents near the border with Arlington, on the other hand, has the lowest, less than $55,000 a year.” [Gazette Packet]
Local Hero Honored By Embassy — “A 10-year-old Alexandria boy who saved a man from drowning was honored by Ambassador Roya Rahmani at the Afghanistan Embassy in Washington, D.C. Sulaiman Mohammad was first honored by the Alexandria Police department for his lifesaving actions in August.” [WJLA]
Not only did the fire alarms go off several times in November at the school, but during one incident where there was a fire — when a poster was set on fire on Nov. 14 but was quickly extinguished — concerns were raised that no alarm went off.
Also, on Nov. 21, the school was evacuated due to the smell of gas. The fire alarm went off during that incident, but firefighters had trouble turning the alarm off, according to scanner traffic.
At a school board meeting last week, parent Kevin Jahns raised the issue of the fire alarms, saying that it seemed like the alarms went off at times when there wasn’t a fire but when there was one, later on, some of the alarms didn’t go off. Concerns about the fire system were repeated throughout the meeting.
“If the fire alarms don’t work in the building, don’t send children to the school,” said one parent. “It’s that simple.”
But Superintendent Gregory Hutchings said some of the concerns are the result of a misunderstanding about how fire alarms in schools work.
“There are no smoke detectors in [classrooms],” Hutchings explained. “The [fire] code for a school is very different than codes for a home.”
Hutchings said the parameters for what sets off an alarm at home are geared towards monitoring areas where there are no people, which he said is not a concern in a school where there are more people in the building.
However, Hutchings did admit that during tests done at the school some alarm systems were found to be inoperable.
“On Nov. 11, [we] did determine that there were some bells in the school for a fire alarm that were not ringing,” Hutchings said.
Jamie Bartlett, director of safety and security for Alexandria City Public Schools, said the alarm system was fixed after they became aware there was a problem. The cause of the alarm, Bartlett said, was a gas smell created as the building switched from air conditioning to heat.
Staff at the meeting also insisted that, despite parent concerns, George Washington has never been deemed unsafe. An update released on Nov. 25 said the issues related to the alarm have been fixed and the school passed an inspection from the Alexandria City Fire Marshal.
We understand that while these repairs resolve the immediate issues, ACPS is committed to continuing our work on long-term upgrades to George Washington. Both the Fire Marshal and the fire and life safety consultant agree that the fire alarm system and related infrastructure for George Washington Middle School is in need of modernizing. We will keep you informed about these next steps as soon as we have information to share.
Staff photo by Jay Westcott
(Updated at 3:10 p.m.) Firefighters from Alexandria and Arlington battled a house fire in the North Ridge neighborhood this afternoon.
Dark smoke was seen coming from a home on the 2900 block of Mayer Place around 1:45 p.m. Arriving firefighters reported finding an active fire on the first floor of the split level home, prompting additional units to be dispatched to the scene.
As of 2 p.m. the fire was reported to be under control and firefighters were working to ventilate smoke from the structure.
Initial reports suggest a dog was found deceased inside the home. The family later arrived at the house and could be seen grieving over the dog, which was placed in a stretcher by firefighters.
Engine 203 arriving with smoke showing from a 2 story home in the 2900 Block of Mayer Avenue. Crews have located and extinguished a fire on the first floor. Battalion 212 with the command.
— IAFF Local 2141 (@IAFFLocal2141) November 27, 2019
Editor’s note: Readers may find some photos within the gallery mildly disturbing.