PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY AND MANASSAS, Virginia, firefighters were called to an apartment fire late Monday evening just before 11 pm. The fire which was elevated to two alarms was on the top floor of a 3-story building containing about 20 units.
Manassas FD photo
As FF's were working a hand line on the 3rd floor, the ceiling collapsed on them, temporarily trapping them under the sheetrock and leaving them disoriented. A call for help was sent and another crew, using ground ladders to the 3rd floor, was able to quickly come to their aid and help them out from beneath the debris.
Shortly after that, the fire broke through the roof of the building and all personnel were withdrawn from the interior.
At least 30 and perhaps as many as 60 residents have been displaced by the fire that caused considerable damage on the 2nd and 3rd floors. The fire began in one of the 3rd-floor units, but the cause is still under investigation.
WJLA-TV filed this video report:
The Potomac Local News has more DETAILS HERE. Inside NOVA has an 11-image photo gallery HERE.
PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY, VIRGINIA, FIREFIGHTERS found an extensive fire racing through a storage unit complex in Manassas Sunday night when they arrived at 11 pm. Manassas Patch reports:
"First-arriving units encountered heavy fire and smoke conditions and the incident quickly escalated to three alarms in which the Department received mutual aid from surrounding jurisdictions of Loudoun, Fauquier and Fairfax County (sic)," said a news release from the Prince William County Department of Fire and Rescue.
"A preliminary report from the Fire Marshal’s Office indicates that approximately 80 storage units were heavily damaged or destroyed," said the news release. "Fire loss estimate is currently unavailable. The damaged units were posted as unsafe structures by a representative from the Building Official’s office."
The entire complex has been declared an unsafe structure by the county building inspector.
Firefighters are spending most of Monday cutting into the
scores of storage units to extinguish smoldering fires and hotspots.
About 140 firefighters were called to battle the blaze. Investigators believe the fire started inside the building and spread to scores of storage units once the roof caught fire. About 85 units and their contents are believed to have been completely destroyed.
Officials said the flames have been extinguished but the contents of some of the units are still believed to be smoking.
Last month saw the kickoff of the sesquicentennial recognition of the conflict in the U. S. often referred to as the Civil War, the violent conflict that began in April 1861 and killed hundreds of thousands of citizen soldiers before it was concluded four years later in April 1865. The first major battle in the war took place just outside Washington at a Virginia railroad junction called Manassas when the Union Army was routed by an underestimated rebel force and the seriousness of the secession came to light.
Now 150 years later another skirmish is taking place in Manassas, but this time the battleground is the local firehouse where the conflict is focused on the City's office of the fire chief. Manassas has long had a strong and viable volunteer fire department, but as the D. C. suburbs grew out to encompass Prince William County, pressure grew to begin the inevitable blending of volunteers and full-time career firefighters. As the county department expanded and grew into a full-fledged combination department, Manassas, an independent city, decided to shield their small department and make it an official function of the city government.
Three years ago they established the position of fire chief with the thought that whoever that was would work cooperatively with the volunteer fire chief and together they would oversee the gradual changeover to a combination department that was sure to come. The city hired a deputy chief from a large, neighboring department who retired to take the position in 2008. But somewhere along the way the city failed to adequately define the legal authorities of both the paid and volunteer chiefs, and after just two years on the job the first paid chief Mike Wood resigned abruptly last December. Citing the inability to put changes into place that he was responsible for, he felt that he was at a dead-end and unable to implement the planned restructuring that he had spent the past two years working on.
The city then hired an interim chief, Dale McCleese, while they began the search for a replacement. While McCleese was serving the temporary slot, the city had hired a permanent fire chief Brett Bowman, an assistant chief with the Prince William County FRD and highly regarded. He was scheduled to begin work on May 2. But on April 27, just four days before his appointment was due to end, McCleese also cut and run, resigning hours after a city council meeting where the volunteer chief presented what McCleese claimed were false training records and standards for the VFD members while claiming that the volunteer department was maintaing proper certifications. McCleese told the Washington Post, "The career chief is held responsible yet has no authority, and I couldn’t do it anymore.”
Immediately following that dust-up, Bowman asked the city council for a 30-day extension before he accepted the post while he considered his decision some more. “Issues have occurred prior to my start date that have caused me some concern and resulted in my asking for additional time to consider the job,” Bowman told the Post.The Manassas Patch suggests that,
McCleese may have been upset over the council’s recent decision to replace a paid battalion chief position with a volunteer. According to the posting, McCleese told council members at an April 27 meeting that "the volunteers do not meet the criteria to become a battalion Chief" and that the city’s decision to fill the position with a volunteer could "leave the city open to liability suits."
Now the city manager has appointed the assistant fire chief, Wade House to act as interim chief until they get this mess sorted out. The Third Battle of Manassas isn't over yet.
While we're waiting for the next skirmish, let's take advantage of the cease-fire to get this equipment checked out. I'll head over to the campfire and get more coffee started. See you later back in the day tent.
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National Hockey League Conference Finals
Standings as of Monday Morning
Itstarted out so well for Tampa last night as they scored just over a minute into the game to take a quick lead. But Boston's goalie Tim Thomas made every move you could imagine the rest of the game and kept the Bolts off the scoreboard the rest of the way. Boston pumped in two in the 2nd and got an empty-netter at the finish.
Western Conference Finals
San Jose Sharks vs. Vancouver Canucks. Canucks – 4, Sharks – 2. Vancouver leads series 3-1. Next game Tuesday night.
Eastern Conference Finals
Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Boston Bruins. Bruins – 3, Lightning – 1. Boston leads series 3-2. Next game Wednesday night