FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. — Nearly 50 Fairfax County neighbors are trying to figure out what to do and where to go after a massive fire ripped through their Fair Lakes condo complex Monday, causing more than $4.2 million in damage.
Neighbors say the fire moved so fast, it's a miracle no one was killed.
"Oh, they did lock it?" said Christina Lemucchi, peering into her flooded ground-level apartment in hopes of saving more of her belongings.
She got an email Monday afternoon while on vacation in Mexico that her condo was on fire and no one was sure what she could salvage. "I flew back on the redeye this morning," she said.
What she found on Tuesday was devastating.
"Just destroyed... Water damage is extensive," she said.
Fire investigators still aren't sure what sparked the blaze, but they say it started on a fourth-floor balcony. Even after they knocked down the fire on the balcony, the flames burned through the attic shared by all the apartments in the building. The fire and water damaged two dozen homes, leaving 48 people homeless.
"I'm in the next building and I was like getting out of my apartment because I was worried it was going to spread across," said neighbor Celine Takla.
Lemucchi's home is right below the apartment where the fire started.
"So all the water they dumped, eight to ten feet of water, to put the fire out, has now dripped through all the floors. And the ceiling in my unit is gone. You can see the fiberglass coming out, the insulation coming out," she said.
She was able to grab a couple of carloads of her possessions, prized art and photographs she's collected in more than 30 years living on Mozart Brigade Lane. But she hasn't had enough time to figure out what she'll do next.
"It's really difficult. Where are you going to live? What are you going to do, are you going to buy another place? Are you going to wait it out?" she asked.
One Fairfax County firefighter suffered minor injuries. But miraculously, no one else was hurt. Things can be replaced, Lemucchi says, people can't.