The Wash
Fire in Arlington
The Arlington County Fire and Rescue Team used a truck ladder to fight a restaurant fire roaring through a roof. (Heather MacNeil/The Wash)

Second fire on S 23rd St. in under 24 hours

Fire Department investigates why a blaze at the same establishment reignited.

The smell of smoke filled the air as units arrived at a fire scene on 500 BLK of 23rd St. at approximately 4:25 p.m. yesterday. The fire brought approximately 13 fire apparatus to the scene, according to Arlington County Fire and Rescue spokesperson Nate Hiner. 

Arlington County Fire Department begins to wrap up after fighting the same fire for a second time (The Wash/Heather MacNeil)

The fire occurred in the building that houses Andalusia Hookah Bar and Top Thai restaurant on restaurant row in Crystal City. Another fire occurred at the same restaurant less than 24 hours before.

“We had another small fire at the same place,” Arlington County Fire Chief William Earley said. 

Units arrived on the scene and located the fire that was quickly extinguished, Hiner told The Wash last night.

The fire that occurred the previous night appeared to have been larger, emanating lots of smoke around the area, witnesses said.  

The first fire was a two-alarm fire that occurred at roughly  10 p.m. and took about two hours to extinguish as flames shot through the roof and spread around the building. 

An Arlington resident who witnessed the fire said that he thought it was an electrical fire due to electricity going out in the building earlier that day. However, the fire department nor the restaurant has confirmed the cause of the fires at this time. 

Fire Fighters work to put away equipment after fire is tamed (Heather MacNeil/The Wash)

Ray Thomsgiri owns Urban Thai restaurant, located only a couple of restaurants down from where the fire occurred. He said he was not at the restaurant last night but received a call about the fire. 

“Our employee called us last night saying there was a fire somewhere,” Thomgsiri said.

He told The Wash that the fire department had cleared the fire from last night, but today, at around “four or five o’clock,” the fire department had returned.

“We don’t know why…we do worry,” Thomgsiri said. 

There did not appear to be any damage around Urban Thai or the surrounding area.

Arlington resident Dassy Reyes could see the fire department returning to the scene from her home nearby. 

Arlington County Fire Department puts out fire at S 23rd St. on Dec. 4 around 10 p.m. (Courtesy of Dassy Reyes)

“When I came home, the fire had already started…I don’t know much about it, just that the name of the affected restaurant is Top Thai,” Reyes said. 

Top Thai was closed when both fires occurred. However, the hookah bar next door was open at the time of the first fire.  

According to Hiner, there were no reported injuries as the building is still vacant from the previous fire and an ongoing investigation is occurring. 

“No reported injuries and the fire is currently under investigation. The building is still vacant following the fire the previous evening so there were no evacuations, however crews conducted searches consistent with policy,” Hiner said. 

The Arlington County Fire and Rescue team said in a press release last night that there was nearly 1.8 million dollars in damage done in the preliminary findings from their investigation. The cause of the fire is still undetermined.

Top Thai and surrounding businesses have not yet commented to The Wash on the damage done to the building but local Arlington residents took to Twitter saying that it looked like the hookah bar and Top Thai had sustained damage to the roof and windows. 


Heather MacNeil

Heather MacNeil is a Washington, D.C. based investigative reporter earning a graduate degree in journalism and public affairs with a specialty in investigative reporting at American University.

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