Apartment fire pushes 12 families out of their homes

An early afternoon fire in an apartment complex off Richmond Avenue and South Main Street in Manassas engulfed one residence Monday and caused smoke and water damage to several others, ultimately displacing a dozen families for the night.

The fire in the 8985 block of South Main Commons apartment complex on Wood Drift Circle started in the upper level of the three-story complex, said Manassas Police spokesman Sgt. Marc J. Woolverton.

Investigation by Manassas City Fire Marshall Richard Boyd determined the fire started on the balcony of the third floor apartment due to improper disposal of a cigarette into a trash receptacle, said Woolverton.

No one was injured in the fire, and residents of the 12 apartments all escaped their homes on their own.

Those who were in their apartments at the time said the fire alarms went off shortly after the fire began and the sprinkler system was quickly activated.

“The sprinklers went off and soon after the management company came by everyone’s apartment to make sure they had gotten out before the fire department arrived,” said Jean Wainaski, a resident of the apartments. “The fire department got here pretty fast. Everything was handled very well, considering.”

Officials at the scene said the call came in shortly after 12:30 p.m., after a witness in a nearby complex called the department on the non-emergency line because they had noticed smoke coming from the complex. Shortly after, several more residents of the complex noticed the smoke and dialed 911.

“There is smoke and water damage on the whole block,” Woolverton said. “The fire went into the attic, which connects all the apartments, but it was … contained before it spread. There were no sprinklers in the attic or balcony.”

Several onlookers from the South Main Commons apartment complex and neighboring complexes watched as members of the fire department worked to put out the two-alarm fire.

Members of the Manassas Volunteer Fire Company and the Greater Manassas Volunteer Rescue Squad were assisted by Manassas Park and Prince William County fire and rescue personnel and worked approximately 30 minutes before knocking out the fire, Woolverton said.

The American Red Cross was on the scene to provide assistance to the displaced families.

The blaze caused more than $1 million in damage, Woolverton said.

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