Nine people were hospitalized – two in critical condition – after a fire tore through a Virginia apartment building Thursday.
A mother and three young children trapped by the fire in the 800 block of Park Avenue in Herndon escaped by climbing three stories down a makeshift rope of bedsheets and curtains as fire exploded upward from the apartment below, blocking the stairwell. There were reports of people jumping from third floor windows, according to Fairfax County Fire and Rescue.
The blaze broke out about 5:30 p.m. sending dozens of residents running out of their homes with just the clothes on their back.
“I pulled in as the first engine company and I saw heavy fire on the backside of the building and also heavy fire on the frontside,” Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department Cpt. Serge Tcheuffa said.
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One crew rescued three people with a ladder, according to Fairfax County Fire and Rescue.
People arriving home from work frantically tried to locate their loved ones amid the chaos.
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Eleven apartments were so damaged by smoke, flames and water that they can’t be occupied until they’re repaired. Several dozen people will need temporary emergency housing.
“So, we have to find them shelter, relocate them,” Tcheuffa said. “Obviously, making sure that we don’t have any extension.”
More than 60 firefighters responded to the scene from all over Fairfax County.
The fire was determined to be accidental, and the source was a charging cable.
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