At approximately 12:08 a.m. on Saturday, January 21, units from Fairfax County and Alexandria City were dispatched for a report of fire in a garden apartment in the 6700 block of Tower Drive in the Groveton section of Fairfax County.
Units arrived on the scene and reported smoke showing from a third floor apartment. Firefighters also reported multiple people were trapped on their balconies and required rescue. A second alarm was immediately called for to bring additional resources to the scene.
Crews were able to quickly remove five occupants from their balconies via fire department ladders in the rear of the building. One occupant was removed from a balcony in the front of the building. Additional firefighters were also engaged with the search and evacuation of additional occupants inside the building. A family cat was also rescued and reunited with the owner.
Simultaneously, crews advanced fire hoses to the third floor and extinguished the fire in approximately 35 minutes.
The involved garden apartment building has a total of eleven units and was occupied by twenty-one adults and fourteen children at the time of the fire. Occupants of the fire apartment were awakened by the activation of working smoke alarms.
Fire Investigators determined that the fire originated in a bedroom of the apartment. The fire was determined to be accidental in nature, caused by an unattended candle.
A total of 35 residents were displaced as a result of the fire. Red Cross will be working with the property management to assist the displaced residents. One adult occupant was transported to an area hospital with non-life threatening injuries. There were no other reported injuries to either occupants or firefighters. Damages as a result of the fire are estimated to be approximately $87,500.00.
The Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department would like to remind residents to avoid the dangers of fire while burning candles to please follow the safety tips listed below:
- Never leave burning candles unattended
- Keep all combustible materials away from open flames
- Do not burn candles near windows or doorways
- Place candles in glass or ceramic containers
- Place candles on a flat, sturdy non-combustible surface
- Never leave candles burning when children or pets are present