About 70 firefighters rushed to the town house at 2932 Wetherburn Court near the River Woods subdivision in Woodbridge near Dumfries to battle the blaze shortly after 6 p.m. Tuesday. Officials said the fire started on the stove when grease splattered while someone was making french fries.
Phyllis Wyatt, 45, was home with her son, Kristopher Wyatt, 16; three grandchildren, Onjaneice Wyatt, 2, Ajee Stubbs, 8, and Kjwntero Stubbs, 6; as well as a neighbor, Antonio Fitzgerald, 9, when the fire broke out. They were able to escape uninjured.
When firefighters entered the smoky town house sandwiched between five others, they discovered fire on all three levels, prompting fire and rescue personnel to evacuate the building for about 10 minutes.
“Once you see the water not doing anything, it’s time to get out,” Young said.
The chief said the fire climbed from the kitchen’s sliding glass door and up the back side of the house where it raced up the eaves and into the attic.
No one was home in the town houses adjacent to the residence where the fire broke out, and those residences, remarkably, received little damage.
Fifteen-year-old Sara M. stood outside her neighboring town house with her family and watched the blaze creep up from the second floor to the roof.
“You couldn’t barely see the fire until it hit the attic. Then the flames shot straight up,” she said as a river of water flowed down the street.
Ten companies responded to the fire, including units from Dale City, Woodbridge, Coles and Stafford. The blaze took about 45 minutes to extinguish.
Firefighter John Roberts became overheated and was sent to Potomac Hospital to be treated, but he would be OK, Young said.
Fire officials would not estimate what the amount of damage was, but said the town house was all but gutted.
“There really isn’t much left,” Young said.
The American Red Cross arrived to take care of the displaced family as onlookers began meandering back to their homes.