Update: Early Morning Fire At Vienna Plaza Shopping Center Causes $710,000 in Damage
Fire that originated in Dunkin' Donuts "could have burned down the whole strip"; closes neighboring businesses
Update 11/15 5:15 p.m.
The fire that began at Dunkin' Donuts early on Sunday morning caused $710,000 in damage, according to the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department.
Alyssa Clem, a 2008 graduate of James Madison High School, said she was driving down Maple Avenue toward Tysons Corner just after 2 a.m. on Sunday with Dita Wieser and Matt Decker, also 2008 JMHS graduates, when they saw evidence of a fire and pulled over to call 911. A few minutes later, firetrucks, two ambulances and several police officers arrived at the scene.
"We saw smoke billowing out of the Greek Grill, Dunkin' Donuts, and The Hair Cuttery," Clem said.
The firefighters that arrived on the scene struck a second alarm, which called more than 60 additional firefighters to the scene, the department said.
The fire was accidental, the department said, caused by combustibles being too close to a hot water heater.
A fire that began inside the Dunkin' Donuts in the Vienna Plaza Shopping Center early this morning was put out before flames spread to other businesses, but smoke damage and soot debris still forced many of those owners to close their stores for the day.
Firefighters responded to a fire at 310 Maple Ave E at 2:10 a.m., according to the International Association Fire Fighters Local 2068, the union that represents Fairfax County firefighters.
The Vienna station could not yet be reached for comment.
Bill Makrigiorgos, one of the owners of The Greek Grill, which sits next to Dunkin' Donuts, said fire officials told him the fire began in a Dunkin' Donuts supply closet. The Dunkin' Donuts has been closed for rennovations, he said, and was three days away from the completion of that construction.
Fire officials told Makrigiorgos that the fire was so hot it melted the solder off of a copper pipe, releasing water and stopping the source of the fire.
"[The Fire Marshal] said 'Here's the Good News: If the fire hadn't been stopped, it would have burned down the whole strip'" Makrigiorgos said.
Makrigiorgos and his family members, who own the grill, were removing ceiling tiles in the early hours of the morning, hoping to remove some of the smell. They planned to get the carpet cleaned, and ultimately replace it, but are waiting for insurers to respond later this afternoon.
He said the grill would likely be closed until Tuesday. The county Health Department gave the businesses in the shopping center clearance to open this morning, but Makrigiorgos said they were being proactive, cautious and considerate of their customers.
"I don't want people sitting in this," he said. "Who is going to come in and eat their food with all this smoke?"
Yeo Park, owner of Diplomat Cleaners, said firefighters broke down his back door trying to find the source of the fire. He said there was still soot coming into the store, and that it would close for the day. He said they have to re-clean every item of clothing in the store -- perhaps several times.
"We'll be open tomorrow. Right now we're just waiting for the insurance company," he said.
"Everything smells burned," said one woman, who was dining with her children.
Check Vienna Patch later in the day for updates to this story.