Cause of fire that displaced 20 Families, injured 2 Firefighters in Bellview Apartments released (UPDATED)

Posted: August 30, 2013

The Winchester Star

Fire officials are battling an afternoon blaze at the Bellview Apartments in Winchester. (Photo by Melissa Boughton)

UPDATE 6:04 p.m. WINCHESTER — A 4-year-old unintentionally set the apartment fire today that displaced 20 families and injured two firefighters on Bellview Avenue, according to city officials.

The fire started near a window and quickly spread to neighboring units through the attic with help from a northern wind, according to a city of Winchester media release.

The 4-year-old's family was asleep when the fire began, but were able to escape because smoke alarms alerted them to what was going on.

The blaze — which broke out just before 11:45 a.m. — damaged at least 16 apartments in the first block of Bellview Avenue, between S. Braddock and S. Loudoun streets.

City Fire Chief Allen Baldwin said the cause of the fire remains under investigation by the Fire Marshal’s Office and the Winchester Police Department.

The blaze was under control in about an hour.

The two firefighters suffered minor injuries in the fire are being treated at Winchester Medical Center, Baldwin said.

No other injuries were reported.

The local chapter of the American Red Cross and Chaplain’s Corps are working to assist the 20 families who are displaced.

In the meantime, the War Memorial Building in Jim Barnett Park has been converted to an emergency shelter for the displaced families and provisions are being provided by the Salvation Army.

Families affected by the fire may call Lorrie Rhoton 540-664-2616 with the American Red Cross or the Winchester Red Cross at 540-662-5412 if they should have any questions.

Due to the emergency shelter in operation at the War Memorial Building, all indoor activities are canceled and the building is closed until further notice.

Individuals with questions concerning the displaced families or the fire may call the Police Department’s non-emergency number at 540-662-4131.

Baldwin said that firefighters will likely be working at the scene for “quite awhile” to overhaul the apartments.

For more information, read Saturday’s Winchester Star.

 — Contact Melissa Boughton at mboughton@winchesterstar.com