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News Alert
Judge: Severance Must Return to Virginia

Updated: Hume Avenue Fire Damage Could Have Been Much Worse

An Alexandria fire engine returned from receiving maintenance just a few hours before crews were called out to respond to a shed blaze in Del Ray.

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.

PD February 29, 2012 at 05:59 AM
I live in the neighborhood. It took the fire department 11 minutes to respond even though they are literally 500 yards away (at most) at the end of the street. I don't think this is cause for accolades. Drew, I hope you follow up to find out what took so long. A few more minutes and the blaze would have gotten out of control.
mg February 29, 2012 at 05:01 PM
From what I have heard from many neighbors, the delay was a result of cars (en route home) blocking the path of firetrucks traveling on Hume and Raymond Avenue and not getting out of the way for the emergency vehicles in a timely manner. The firefighters did an excellent job fighting the blaze and preventing additional damage.
Drew Hansen (Editor) February 29, 2012 at 05:06 PM
A nearby resident told me the nearest hydrant was a somewhat lengthy distance away from the fire. Perhaps that caused a minor delay?
PD March 01, 2012 at 05:14 PM
Nope, the eleven minute time lapse occurred before the woman blocked the street. That was annoying but did not result in much delay. The hydrant is across the street and four houses down. The official time response is 3 minutes, but that is not accurate, and may be because there were multiple calls made to the station.
Peaches March 02, 2012 at 05:26 AM
The woman did not mean to block the road, she was moving the cars that were parked in front, and between the two houses where the fire was taking place, that way the fire fighters could easily get to the fire. (The cars were blocking access to the fire) In all the commotion, she was trying to help, and salvage her cars, as her neighbors fire was working its way towards her house.
mc March 15, 2012 at 03:50 PM
mg hit it right on the nail, the delay was caused by traffic not due to negligence of the AFD. These guys are consumate professionals, conscientious and dilligent in responding to calls. We need their services, and it really is a shame that the City is slow to provide their workers the tools necessary to do their job, most especially if it's a matter of life or death.

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