Local firefighters had their hands full, Saturday, Dec. 28, battling two residential fires in western Centreville on the same night. Both happened between 7 and 8 p.m.
The first blaze was at the Forest Glen Senior Apartments at 14401 Woodmere Court. Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department units responded around 7:10 p.m., with first-arriving firefighters encountering heavy smoke on the second floor of the four-story, 83-unit apartment complex.
Fire alarms in the building activated, and several of the occupants appeared on a balcony in distress. The incident commander struck a second alarm, bringing approximately 60 firefighters total to the scene. While simultaneously searching the building to see if anyone was trapped — and attacking the flames in a second-floor bedroom — firefighters rescued two occupants.
The blaze was quickly extinguished in the bedroom closet. In addition, apartment sprinklers activated and helped control the fire. Two of the residents were transported to INOVA Fairfax Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
Five occupants in three separate units were displaced as a result of the heavy water damage. Fire officials estimated the damage to the building at $10,000. According to fire investigators, the fire was accidental and was caused by an iron in a bedroom closet.
Because of the large number of residents at Forest Glen, firefighters from several stations initially responded to the call. They came from Centreville Stations 38 and 17, Frying Pan, Station 21 in Fair Oaks and Station 15 in Chantilly (medic unit).
Responding to the second alarm were firefighters from Fox Mill, Fairfax, Frying Pan (medic unit), Oakton and Fair Oaks, plus three units from Loudoun County.
The second fire that night broke out around 7:50 p.m. at a home at 14361 Cedar Key Landing. The fire was initially reported by the Fairfax One helicopter crew, who saw it from the air and called it in. Smoke and fire were pouring from the front and roof of a middle-unit, two-story townhouse upon firefighters’ arrival.
As in the earlier blaze, the incident commander struck a second alarm, sending some 60 firefighters racing to the scene. They conducted an aggressive attack and were able to bring this fire under control in about 20 minutes.
Although firefighters contained the flames to the second floor and roof of the townhouse, there was minor fire extension to an adjacent unit. No one was home when the fire broke out, but three adults and three children were displaced from the unit that burned, as well as three residents of the adjoining townhouse. Red Cross assisted the occupants; no one was injured.
The first wave of firefighters came from Stations 38 and 17 in Centreville, Clifton (medic unit), the City of Fairfax, the Fairview station and the Fairfax station on West Ox Road. The second alarm brought units from Prince William County, Burke, West Annandale, Reston, Fairview (medic unit) and the Frying Pan station.
Damage is estimated at $150,000. Fire investigators say the fire was accidental and was caused by an electrical power strip in an upstairs bedroom. As a result, the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department offers the following electrical-safety tips to residents:
Replace or repair loose or frayed cords on all electrical devices. Avoid overloading outlets and plug only one high-wattage appliance into each receptacle outlet at a time. If the power goes out often or the lights in the home flicker, produce an odor, or make noise, have an electrician inspect the wiring.
The electrical outlet in the bathroom should have a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI). It’s a tool protecting people from dangerous shock when water and electricity come together. An electrician can install it.
All electrical outlets and switches should be covered by face plates. When possible, avoid the use of “cube taps” and other devices allowing the connection of multiple appliances into a single receptacle.
Inspect electrical cords to make sure they’re in good condition. Consider having additional circuits or outlets added by a qualified electrician so extension cords aren’t needed. Don’t tie or knot electrical cords, don’t place furniture on electrical cords and follow the manufacturer’s instruction for plugging an appliance into a receptacle outlet.