could have been much worse had Alexandria Fire Engine 209 not returned from being serviced just a few hours before responding to the shed blaze.
The Alexandria Fire Department did not have a reserve engine to substitute in while the 209 Engine was out for repairs because of a temporary depletion in its fleet. The engine returned to about two hours before crews were called to the Hume Avenue incident.
Had the engine still been out for maintenance, the Station 209 crew would have responded to the incident in a Chevy Suburban. While they would have been able to combat the blaze, firefighters would have had to wait a few precious minutes for engines from the Cameron Mills Road or Old Town stations to arrive.
“At the rate this fire was spreading, there could have been a lot more damage,” Alexandria Fire Department Public Information Officer Bob Rodriguez said. “The occupants were very lucky.”
Rodriguez said this is an issue that arises when “dealing with an aging fleet.” He said the city is “well aware” of the status of the fleet and is “fully supportive” in giving the department the tools it needs.
“They get it,” he said, adding that one new ladder truck and four new engines are on their way.
The Hume Avenue fire occurred less than a half-mile away from Station 209.
Rodriguez said the fire started around 6:30 p.m. Monday on a backyard shed in the 300 block of Hume Ave. First responders saw “large volumes of smoke and fire coming from the rear of the address,” he said. The fire spread to a shed in a neighboring backyard, but crews were able to put it out before the second shed was destroyed.
The exterior of both homes received “a little fire damage,” Rodriguez said. Firefighters hosed down the branches of a large tree that spread above both lots. They were on the scene for about two hours.
Rodriguez said it was "a smoldering, accidental fire" that started inside the shed.
AFD crews responded to a second, unrelated backyard fire around 10:15 p.m. Monday night in the first block of W. Glendale Avenue. Firefighters were on the scene for about 20 minutes helping extinguish a wood fire underneath a backyard deck.