Video, Photos: Large Fire Destroys Virginia Construction Site

Smoke seen for miles around Washington

(William Gawler photo)

Kyley Schultz, WUSA9 with permission


A massive 5-alarm fire broke out near Alexandria Saturday morning, engulfing the building in huge flames. Thick black smoke was seen for miles around the DMV.

Alexandria Fire Department received calls to the 2800 block of Poag Street off North King Highway around 9:40 a.m.for a building fire. Poag Street is located in the Groveton area of Fairfax County.

Fairfax County Fire Chief John Butler said when fire officials arrived, there were two buildings under construction that were fully engulfed in flames.

“The fire had spread to some adjacent buildings, some of which included some under construction townhomes,” Chief Butler said.

Chief Butler said the fire department faced limited access to the areas, as well as limited water and wind which caused some challenges while battling the massive fire. The strong winds made containing the fire difficult, Butler said.

The apartment complex across the street, The Shelby, was evacuated as the fire spread. While the building faced some damages, no one in the apartment complex was injured, according to Chief Butler.

There are additional unexploded propane tanks on the construction grounds that officials are currently keeping an eye on.

“The main priority is to protect the exposures,” Chief Butler said.

U.S. Route 1 was closed to all traffic between Beacon Hill Road and Huntington Avenue and North Kings Highway is closed between School Street and Fairhaven Avenue.

WUSA9 reporter Kolbie Satterfield talked to Andrea Rivas who described the scene as “smelling like fireworks.”

One bystander described the scene as ‘pretty intense’. “You could feel the water at times. You could feel the heat, actually, from the smoke and the flames,” said the onlooker.

800 customers are experiencing power outages due to the huge fire, according to Peggy Fox, Dominion Energy Media Communication’s Manager.

Fox said, “The Operations Center de-energized lines in the immediate area temporarily to keep everyone safe while Fairfax County Fire and Rescue battles the blaze.”

In 2017, a similar incident occurred at a development called Fuse 47 that went up in flames causing nearly $40 million in damage.

The College Park apartment building was set to open to residents in July 2017.

University of Maryland Junior Nicholas Bentley had signed a lease to move into the apartment building earlier this year. He told WUSA9 he was informed by Fuse 47 that he would receive his application fee and deposit fund back.

Currently building codes allow structures as high as five stories to be constructed using a wood frame, as long as they are protected by modern sprinkler systems. Fuse 47 included a three-story garage built with a concrete frame and five stories for residential living, which was built with a wood frame. The project was still under construction at the time of the fire, and the sprinkler system was not yet functioning.

The National Weather Service tweeted the fire picking up on several sattelite’s and radars.

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