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Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Fire damages three condos in Annandale

Smoke pours out of a condo in Annandale. [Photos by a witness]
Four people were injured in a two-alarm fire in the Tall Trees Garden Condominium in Annandale Jan. 11.

More people could have been hurt, however, if not for the efforts of Jeremy Shoemaker who was working nearby and rushed inside the building to help residents get out.  

Fire damage can be seen on a building at Tall Trees condos. 
The fire broke out at 10:13 a.m. in a two-story building at 4959 Americana Drive. “It was a pretty big fire. Three condos were involved,” said Battalion Chief Willie Bailey of the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department. Units from at least four fire stations were on the scene.

According to Bailey, two residents were transported to Inova Fairfax Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. Another resident was treated on the scene and refused to go to the hospital. A firefighter was injured, as well.

Bailey wasn’t at the scene and doesn’t have a report from fire investigators on the cause of the fire. A witness, however, said a microwave exploded, causing a Christmas tree to catch fire. 

Shoemaker, director of field operations with PSI Property Services, said he was putting down sod and installing handrails when “I heard a lady screaming ‘Fire!’ and noticed a fire glowing in the window.”

Many fire trucks on the scene at Americana Drive.

He yelled for the other guys he was working with – Chris Fury, Nick Ziegler, and Lee Ziegler – and they grabbed fire extinguishers and ran inside the building where they saw a Christmas tree on fire. “It scared the shit out of me,” he said.

They got the tree fire extinguished but by then the back wall of the kitchen was engulfed in flames, the apartment was full of smoke, and the fire was spreading to the apartment upstairs, Shoemaker said. They knocked on the doors of adjacent condos and got four other people out.

Meanwhile, the resident of the ground-floor condo where the fire started had climbed out of a bedroom window, and was yelling “my babies!” said Shoemaker, who thought there were other people still inside. Those babies, however turned out to be a cat and a rabbit, both of whom ran outside to safety.

He said the owner, who suffered abrasions from her escape, was back on the scene today, and an elderly man who lived upstairs had been treated for smoke inhalation. The units are now boarded up.

After the fire was put out, Shoemaker said his reaction was, “What the hell just happened?” He said he did what anyone would have done in the same situation. “You don’t think at the time; you just react.”


  1. awesome quick thinking, and great story.

  2. Jeremy Shoemaker you are a true hero. Great Job!

  3. So brave.

  4. Fantastic story about our every day lives here in Annandale and the true spirit of helping one another in a time of need. We are not just another statistic - we are the people!