Three alarm fire blazes through apartments on West End of Alexandria

Three alarm fire blazes through apartments on West End of Alexandria

An afternoon three-alarm blaze on the citys West End has left a firefighter suffering from minor injuries, an apartment building gutted and a portion of Edsall Road closed.    
Officials received reports of the 6000 block Edsall Road blaze about 1:40 p.m. with callers reporting flames in the front of the three-story garden-style apartment complex. 
A sweep of the building found no residents and there were no other injuries, save the one firefighter, said Chief Robert Rodriguez. Authorities did not know the nature of the injuries, nor whether the unidentified individual was a city firefighter or from neighboring companies responding with mutual aid from Arlington and Fairfax counties. 
Witnesses described flames launching into the sky, visible from the high rise apartments surrounding the scene. Chris Kelly, a neighbor, got a front row seat of the blaze from his nearby home. 
I seen it when [authorities] first got here, flames shooting up, he said. It was very intense.
Nearly an hour passed before firefighters were able to bring them down, enough time for him to take a shower and come out onto the street for a better look. 
Kelly, who has lived in the neighborhood for about a year, described the complex as working class. Most of the people who lived in the building likely would have been at work, he said. 
School Board member Charles Wilson owns property across the street from the fire. He recalled hearing sirens and then spotted a huge plume of smoke rise up. 
It looked like an explosion, Wilson said. Big, black smoke, like a mushroom cloud.
Authorities closed Edsall Road between Van Dorn Street and Yoakum Parkway, prompting officials to keep students who live in the area at their schools until the blaze is cleared. Dash buses on the AT1 and AT8 lines cancelled service to Stevenson Avenue, Whiting Street and Yoakum Parkway. 
At about 3 p.m. smoke still rose from the collapsed roof of the building as firefighters switched from offensive to defensive tactics.
Theyre hoping to contain the blaze to the 12 units affected, Rodriguez said.
Its always a challenge, but with Alexandria being assisted by Fairfax and Arlington were in the process of getting it under control, he said. 
The cause and exact starting point of the blaze are unknown. Officials have not yet begun their investigation, according to Rodriguez. 
The number of residents displaced also is unknown, though American Red Cross officials were arriving on scene at about 3:30 p.m.
Officials dont know how much damage the blaze caused.