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Arlington fire displaces 14 apartment dwellers

Fourteen people were displaced Tuesday evening by a fire that was caused by smoldering cigarette butts on the patio of an east Arlington apartment complex, according to reports.

The blaze was was reported at 7 p.m. at the Manhattan Park Apartments in the 2200 block of New York Avenue. The complex is south of New York Avenue's intersection with East Pioneer Parkway.

It was brought under control at 7:27 p.m., according to a fire department report.

Fire investigators stated in the report that some residents said "they had been sitting on the porch smoking and discarded butts in a plastic container located under (the) patio table."

Fire Marshal Stephen Lea added, however, that the smoldering butt could have been discarded by a passerby. He said the area around the patio was littered with other butts, which made him think it was commonly visited by other smokers.

The estimated losses were $75,000 to the building and $6,000 for contents, according to the report.

Two units were destroyed, but another nine units had no electricity because firefighters asked that the power be shut off as they battled the blaze.

The American Red Cross arranged lodging for the 12 adults and two children, said Anita Foster, Red Cross spokeswoman.

"When it's a 100 degrees outside," she added, "power being out can be a dangerous situation for a family.

"We had a large population of Vietnamese speakers at this complex, so we worked with Vietnamese (community) groups to ensure everyone had a pillow to sleep on last night."

Groceries and clothes were offered to the two families who lived in the units that were destroyed, Foster said.

The report also stated that a police officer suffered minor smoke inhalation, but he declined to go to the hospital.