VIRGINIA

Reston apartment fire evacuates dozens

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A Reston teen says trying to get residents out of a burning condominium wasn't an easy task.

Trey Brown, 17, was out skateboarding in his neighborhood when he saw flames.
About 100 people are displaced and at least 10 to 12 units were affected by the fire, officials say. (Photo: WJLA)

Trey Brown, 17, and his two friends were out skateboarding in their neighborhood when they saw flames tearing through a complex at 11404 Gate Hill Place. The teen says he knew senior citizens lived in the building. He and his friends then jumped into action.

Fire officials credit them with banging on doors and helping to get residents out. Brown called 911.

"We started yelling for people, like yelling, 'Fire!'," Brown explained. 

But, teens showing up at one woman's door at 1 a.m. was interpreted as a prank, not a rescue.

Brown said, "She went back upstairs, and we ended up knocking the door down and getting her out of there."

Over 100 firefighters responded to the three-alarm structure fire.

It took firefighters 90 minutes to get the fire under control and nine of the 18 condominiums were affected by the fire. Five units suffered major fire, smoke, and water damage, and four other units received light to moderate damage. The other nine units were able to get back to their homes after electricity was restored.

Andra Portnoy's condo is among the ones ruined by the fire. She left with her 82-year-ol mother, her dogs and the clothes on their backs.

She says hearing her neighbors' shouts to get out helped save their lives.

"The living room was full of smoke. My alarm was not going off, and I looked out the front window and I looked to the left and saw blazes," Portnoy said.

Residents who got out went door to door, trying to reach others before the fire did.

"It was 10 seconds to get down the doors to get the other residents out and come back out by that time, it had jumped up across the roof and was coming across the side of the building," rescuer Tamara Newman said.

One occupant was treated at the scene by paramedics and later released. The damage is expected to be more than $1 million.

Brown says he's just relieved no one was seriously hurt.

"After I look the pictures, I would never do that again. But, we were just doing what we had to do," Brown said.

The fire is under investigation.

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