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Fire Crews Investigate Fatal Fire in Albemarle County - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Fire Crews Investigate Fatal Fire in Albemarle County

Posted: Updated: 1/18/2014 4:46:41 PM
Carriage Trail Place Carriage Trail Place

A mother and her two young children are dead after a fire ravaged their apartment in Keswick early Saturday morning.

Firefighters from nine different stations responded to the apartments at the Carriage Hill Farm Pony Camp.

Two families lived in the home, which is divided into two apartments. One of the survivors says she heard crying and screaming from inside the house as it was burning.

“We are traumatized as to what's happened upstairs,” says home owner Daniel O’Donnell

O’Donnell says his dog woke him up to the smell of smoke. “I saw large bright lights from the upper apartment and I quickly woke my wife up and told her ‘Let’s get out. There is a fire upstairs,’” he stated.

O'Donnell, his wife and their son rushed out of their lower level apartment in the Keswick home. When they got outside, they saw the father of the family who lived above them.

“The upstairs tenant was screaming; he said his family was still upstairs,” O’Donnell says. “I assisted him with a ladder to go to the upper bedroom window…but we were overcome by smoke and there wasn't much we could do.”

Firefighters say the father had just returned from work to find his apartment ablaze.

Crews responded to the 911 call within 12 minutes. They got inside and pulled out the body of the man's son. But, it was too dangerous for firefighters to continue rescue efforts inside.

“The conditions continued to deteriorate,” says Carter Johnson, spokesperson for Albemarle County Police. “The roof collapsed. They weren't able to stay in the home.”

The fire started on the second floor of the home and quickly engulfed it in flames. It was so strong firefighters said it took them almost seven hours to put out. Crews found the bodies of the mother and daughter once it was safe for firefighters to go back inside the apartment.

The O'Donnell’s say they are devastated by the loss of their upstairs neighbors.

The names of the victims are not being released at this time.

Firefighters say the house did have working smoke detectors and are investigating what caused the fire.

Albemarle County Fire and Rescue Press Release-

The Albemarle County Fire Department is investigating a fatal fire that occurred in the early morning hours of Saturday, January 18, 2014.

Around 1:30 a.m. crews were dispatched to 870 Carriage Trail Place for a structure fire. The first arriving unit was from the Monticello Station, Station 11, and arrived about 12 minutes after the initial call. A unit from the East Rivanna Station, Station 2, which is located closer was responding to another call at the time and was quickly rerouted to the home on Carriage Trail Place. The call status was upgraded to a 2nd alarm fire.

The call was reported by the occupant of the home and the father of the family inside the second floor apartment. He arrived home from work to find the house engulfed in flames. In attempting to enter the home and save his family, he was injured and taken to UVA Medical Center with non-life threatening injuries. Three people in the downstairs apartment were able to get out of the home safely.

Once on scene, firefighters were able enter the home and pull one male juvenile victim (between the ages of 6 – 8 years old) from the structure. However, conditions quickly deteriorated and the roof collapsed on the home. Due to excessive heat and safety issues, firefighters were unable to get back inside the structure at that time. An adult female and a female juvenile (between the ages of 2 – 4 years old) were recovered from the home at a later time.

Crews remain on scene at this time and the cause of the fire is under investigation. A total of nine stations responded to assist with the fire and other agencies also provided backup and support.

At this time, we do not know if the home had properly functioning fire alarms. However, we do want to remind people of the importance of checking the batteries in their smoke detectors. It is also important to make sure they are in multiple locations, where everyone in the home can hear the alarm sound. Please take a few moments to consider the importance of these safety precautions.

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