There were no injuries after a small fire in the vent shaft of an apartment building in the Fairlington neighborhood on Tuesday, September 20.
The Alexandria Fire Department was dispatched to the Waypoint apartment building at 2451 Menokin Drive at around 10 a.m. It took just over an hour for AFD to leave the scene.
“Units responded to the location finding a small fire in the vent shaft and quickly extinguishing the fire,” Alexandria Fire Department Senior Public Information Officer Raytevia Evans said. “At the time units arrived, the building was already being evacuated.”
The apartment building is next door to Fairlington Presbyterian Church and near the intersection of Menokin Drive and King Street.
Fireworks fans should get ready for quite a treat for the senses, as Alexandria’s annual birthday celebration is back along the waterfront on Saturday, July 9.
The free event, which will be held from 6 to 9:45 p.m., will commemorate the city’s 273rd birthday. The evening will include a performance by the Alexandria Symphony Orchestra and a grand finale fireworks display at 9:30 p.m.
Visit Alexandria recommends these vantage points to see the best fireworks:
- Canal Center Plaza (Center Canal Plaza)
- Rivergate Park (2 Montgomery St.)
- Oronoco Bay Park (100 Madison St.)
- Founders Park (351 North Union St.)
- Waterfront Park (1A Prince St.)
- Windmill Hill Park (501 South Union St.)
- Fords Landing boardwalk (99 Franklin St.)
- Jones Point Park (Jones Point Dr.)
- George Washington Masonic Temple (101 Callahan Dr.)
Fireworks are otherwise illegal in Alexandria
The Alexandria Fire Department is also reminding residents that it’s illegal to use fireworks within the city limits.
“The Alexandria Fire Department is reminding those who visit, live and work in the City of Alexandria that it’s illegal to possess, sell, store, or use any fireworks within the city limits – including sparklers, novelty items, or any fireworks that can be otherwise legally purchased in neighboring jurisdictions,” AHD said in a release.
Fireworks violations are a misdemeanor and punishable by a $2,500 fine and jail time.
“The Fourth of July is approaching, and we encourage the community to celebrate safely. Our Fire Marshal’s Office remains diligent to ensure the safety of the community and to protect people, businesses and property, they will enforce the City’s ban on all fireworks used within city limits,” Fire Chief Corey Smedley said.
Multiple persons of interest have been identified after an attempted break-in and arson at a 7-Eleven store in the West End.
At around 4:30 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 3, four-to-five males walked into the 7-Eleven at 2 S. Jordan Street and “using incendiary devices committed the offense of arson,” according to a police search warrant affidavit.
No arrests have yet been made.
The fire may have been started as a “possible precursor to the offenses of grand larceny and burglary, based on similar cases throughout the District of Columbia metropolitan area,” police said in the warrant.
Significant damage was made to the store, and police are actively investigating the incident with the Fire Mashall’s Office.
“Investigators recovered evidence from the incident and have submitted the evidence for analysis,” Alexandria Fire Department Raytevia Evans told ALXnow. “Investigators have identified several persons of interest who may have been involved.”
Images courtesy Will Mahoney (@HeelWillMahoney)
A possible firebombing at a convenience store is under investigation.
Alexandria officials have not commented officially yet, but according to radio reports, investigators are looking for four to five men who threw Molotov cocktails into the 7-Eleven on S. Jordan Street at Duke Street around 4:30 p.m. on Monday.
The fire caused significant fire and smoke damage to the store. Fire officials did say there were no injuries reported. Firefighters spent several hours on scene after extinguishing the blaze, which had spread into the ceiling.
Fire investigators remained at the store well into the evening.
Officials have been investigating similar fires at 7-Eleven stores in the D.C. area, mostly in Prince George’s County, during the past few months. The most recent was a fire reported early New Year’s Day in Forestville.
Images courtesy Will Mahoney (@HeelWillMahoney)
After concern that his officers were working too much overtime, Alexandria Fire Chief Corey Smedley temporarily put an engine out of service on Sunday night (Dec. 19).
The move was enough to prompt the International Association of Firefighters’ Local 2141 to put out a public safety alert on social media.
****Public Safety Alert**** Engine 205 which serves the Old Town West, Rosemont, Eisenhower East and Southern Del Ray Neighborhoods is currently closed for the evening due to staffing shortages. Another Emergency Response Reduction due to AFD’s staffing Crisis. pic.twitter.com/JUXfyHzAvr
— IAFF Local 2141 (@IAFFLocal2141) December 20, 2021
Smedley said that fire apparatus go out of service all the time for a number of issues, including training, maintenance, and community outreach events. Still, he said, staff have continued to express concern over working mandatory overtime, and says it is impacting their lives, from “child care issues to mental exhaustion.”
“I was also concerned about some who were on shift and approaching maximum consecutive work hours,” Smedley told ALXnow. “Considering all of these factors and the high rate of those working mandatory overtime, the Fire Department initiated a portion of its continuity of operations plan by placing Engine 205 out of service at 7 p.m. on December 19 to relieve some of the pressure on our workforce.”
The unions tweeted that such reductions are now common occurrences, and that other closures have been made in recent months.
This is another response reduction in recent months which includes the closure of the Rescue 209 in Potomac Yard/ Del Ray, and the downgrading of service at Medic 207 located at Duke Street and Quaker Lane.
— IAFF Local 2141 (@IAFFLocal2141) December 20, 2021
The engine returned to service the following day.
“Based on our data, this was the least impactful timeframe of the day for call volume,” Smedley said. “We ensured advanced medical service was covered across the city by moving the engine’s paramedic to Truck 205 and informing our mutual aid partners of the temporary change in operations.”
Understaffing within the Alexandria Fire Department put people and buildings at risk during a fire at Crystal City’s restaurant row on 23rd Street earlier this month, according to two unions representing more than 500 Alexandria and Arlington firefighters, medics and fire marshals.
In a sharply worded press release on Friday, Dec. 10, officials from the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 2141 and IAFF Local 2800 wrote that AFD’s inability to fully staff their department led to “multiple close calls” at a fire on Saturday, Dec. 4, in the 500 block of 23rd Street. No one was injured in the blaze, which caused $1.8 million in damages.
“The City’s been playing with fire for awhile now” said Josh Turner, President of Local 2141. “It’s an unnecessary game of Russian roulette putting lives at risk, solely due to the City’s inability to recruit and retain employees for our department.”
What resulted, the unions said, was a call for service where firefighters were short staffed, and Alexandria did not send both and Engine Company (which extinguishes fires) and Rescue Company (removes obstructions and rescues victims) to the scene — only a Rescue Company. The unions reported that when a Rescue Company in South Arlington was responding to another call, Arlington and Alexandria had to follow a “short staffing” procedure that brought only a single AFD engine to the fire.
A Rescue Company from Fairfax County instead had to to report to the scene.
“The initial call should have had a minimum 12 firefighters dispatched for tasks like putting up ladders, forcible entry and search and rescue. Instead there were only 8 dispatched,” said Brian Lynch, President of IAFF Local 2800, representing uniformed members of the Arlington County Fire Department. “That is the equivalent of fielding a football team with only a portion of your offensive line. The job got done this time, but we cannot be putting families, businesses and firefighters at this kind of risk.”
Lynch continued, “Firefighters conducting fire attack and searching the second floor for victims encountered extreme and nearly deadly fire behavior, which forced them to rapidly evacuate. Eventually the second floor collapsed. Luckily, firefighters on the scene from other functions like EMS or standing by to rescue trapped firefighters were able to help with some fire operations. But we should not be relying on that, especially for a call like this – both businesses were occupied at the start of the fire, thankfully there were not multiple patients, or firefighters that could not rescue themselves. This could have ended very badly.”
Alexandria’s Rescue Company has been reportedly been understaffed since August 12.
Alexandria Fire Chief Corey Smedley says he’s having constant conversations with local union groups, and says he has spoken with the incoming City Manager Jim Parajon about hiring additional staff and employee compensation.
“We’re in a challenging space right now.,” Smedley said. “We need more resources, and we’re working toward that. But the community will get responded to and they will have the appropriate people there to mitigate their emergency. At the same time, I need to make sure we have the appropriate staffing for first responders so that they can also have the confidence that they’re going to be taken care of in those very risky situations.”
Smedley also said he’s been concerned with the number of hours his people are working, and recently reduced the maximum number of consecutive hours they are allowed to work.
“Some of them were working up to 72 hours straight, and that was not safe,” Smedley said. “I cannot continue and I did not continue to allow them to put themselves and for us to allow them to put themselves into harm’s way.”
There are now 281 first responders within AFD, Smedley said, and the the department needs 347 to be fully staffed. As it stands, there are 27 recruits in the Fire Academy, and they are scheduled to graduate in the first quarter of next year. Smedley said he hoped to hire 30 more recruits to get additional relief.
Smedley will soon travel to Arlington, Texas, where Parajon is the outgoing assistant city manager. There, he says, he will talk to the fire chief about lessons learned and best practices to get things moving forward in Alexandria.
Video from the S. 23rd Street fire in Arlington. https://t.co/0KkWkRp5Nx
— Dave Statter (@STATter911) December 5, 2021
An overloaded electrical outlet is likely the cause behind last month’s three-alarm fire in a Del Ray duplex, the Alexandria Fire Department announced Wednesday.
Two adults and a child were displaced by the blaze, which occurred at around 6 p.m. on Friday, November 19. A cat is still missing, according to APD.
“AFD’s Fire Marshal’s Office conducted an origin and cause investigation and determined that the fire was accidental and originated on the first floor of one of the two units in the residential structure,” AFD said in a release. “Due to extensive fire damage, an exact source of ignition was difficult to determine; however, the probable cause of the fire is attributed to an overloaded electrical outlet where several appliances were connected.”
The duplex has been condemned, and damages are estimated at $1.4 million.
The Del Ray Citizens Association launched a GoFundMe for the residents and raised nearly $40,000.
— Alexandria Fire-EMS (@AlexandriaVAFD) December 8, 2021
On Friday, a three-alarm fire ravaged a duplex in Del Ray and displaced two families. The next morning, neighbors started to mount an effort to help them recover.
Within two days, the Del Ray Citizens Association set up a GoFundMe that has raised $29,464 of a $30,000 total goal to help the families start putting their lives back together. The Del Ray Citizens Association said on the GoFundMe page that the families lost nearly everything they owned in the fire.
“Some of you may be aware, but the families lost everything,” the group said. “They ran out of their homes with only the clothes they were wearing. The money you’ve donated is helping them rebuild their lives and come as close to ‘normal’ as possible — we all know the importance of getting back to normal after these past few years. Toiletries, socks, underwear, shoes, diapers, toys for the baby, all the basics that were needed immediately. Soon to come will be furniture, kitchen basics, blankets, rent deposit, bedding, home goods.”
The Del Ray Citizens Association said that one of the families has been rehoused locally, while the other has moved in with family elsewhere in Northern Virginia.
Consignment shop Bellies & Babies (1913 Mt Vernon Avenue) has also been running a collection for household items for the families, asking for gift cards to Target and Amazon for the family, along with food. In terms of clothing and other items for the families, the consignment shop said it’s looking to collect:
- Toys and books
- Size 5 diapers
- Size 6 shoes
- Boy’s clothing
- Sippy cups and blankets
- Ladies’ clothing, size small, with 7.5-size shoes
- Mens’ clothing, size large
Donations can be dropped off at Bellies & Babies with bags labelled “FIRE”.
“Please use Bellies & Babies as your drop-off point label any bag that is for this cause ‘FIRE’ and we will get it directly to the family,” the consignment shop said. “Thank you again for this community that is so generous and kind for everything you have been doing for all of our neighbors. I have always believed it takes a village and I’m happy to be a part of this one.”
(Updated at 9 p.m.) No one was injured Friday night (November 19) after a two-alarm fire in a duplex in the heart of Del Ray.
The Alexandria Fire Department was called at around 6:16 p.m. after smoke was reported to be coming from the rear of a two-story duplex in the 100 block of E. Del Ray Avenue, according to Battalion Chief David Plunkett.
“There is extensive damage to both homes,” Plunkett told ALXnow. “Units will stay on the scene for a few more hours, and the nearby roads will be closed.”
Two adults and a child were displaced by the blaze, and were assisted by the American Red Cross.
Fire investigators are at the scene and the cause of the blaze and where it originated have not yet been determined.
Coincidentally, the incident occurred just days after the fire department performed drills at a residential building just a few blocks away.
— Richard England (@REnglandDC) November 19, 2021
This week, our first responders had the opportunity to train and run various drills in a residential building on E Del Ray Ave. They took a break for a bit to chat about fire safety and show off their gear and apparatus with some kids in the area. #traineveryday #stayready pic.twitter.com/0XJD8XKl5B
— Alexandria Fire-EMS (@AlexandriaVAFD) November 13, 2021
Mayor recommends residents try out slaughterhouse — “Excited to say hello to the DC Poultry Market on Colvin Street this afternoon. They’re now open and it’s wonderful to have a source for fresh, local, free-range chicken in our City. They’re open 7 days a week. Check them out!” [Facebook]
DASH unveils new 40-foot-long electric buses — “The Alexandria Transit Company DASH is committed to transitioning to an entire fleet of zero emissions vehicles. Today they moved closer to that goal with the debut of three new battery-powered electric buses.” [Zebra]
National Night Out is Tuesday night — “We look forward joining our public safety partners @AlexandriaVAFD & @AlexVASheriff to celebrate National Night Out next Tuesday, August 3. It’s a time to celebrate our community and work together to keep everyone safe & secure.” [Twitter]
Today’s weather — “Mainly sunny. High 83F. Winds NNW at 10 to 15 mph… Partly cloudy skies during the evening will give way to cloudy skies overnight. Low near 65F. Winds NE at 5 to 10 mph.” [Weather.com]
New Job: Keyholder at FatFace — “We want you to train, develop and lead your crew to their full potential. Act as a brand ambassador, promoting the FatFace brand and culture to our customers through your team.” [Indeed]