The massive explosion shattered windows, was heard for miles and drew the attention of top officials from Virginia to Richmond.
The blast was a “major explosion” and “very, very scary,” U.S. Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) said in a post on X, formerly Twitter.
A neighbor who witnessed the scene nearby called it a “huge explosion” that shook his house, littering it with broken glass and leaving it shaking. “It took me about an hour to stop shaking,” she said.
Arlington County police spokeswoman Ashley Savage said police received a call around 4:45 p.m. Monday about a flare gun being fired at a home in the 800 block of Burlington Street. Video posted online showed one or two orange flares, the type used to call for help or signal an emergency, rising into the air at dusk, before settling on the ground. Police later said in a statement that the suspect fired the flare gun 30 or 40 times from his home toward the neighborhood.
After that, police attempted to execute a search warrant at the home related to the discharge of the flare gun, Savage said. She said the person inside refused to cooperate. Police attempted to contact the person by telephone and loudspeaker before attempting to execute the warrant, officials said.
Neighbors were evacuated as a precaution, said Capt. Nate Hiner of the Arlington County Fire Department. Then, as police approached, the suspect fired several shots from what authorities described as a gun inside the home. Around 8:25 p.m., the house exploded.
The neighbor who described the explosion said it took a long time for police to try to get the occupant out of the house. They kept saying “get out,” the neighbor said.
She said she heard a voice inside the house asking her to “let me go.” This account could not be confirmed by the police. The neighbor spoke on condition of anonymity due to concerns about her privacy and her own safety.
Henry McFarland, 72, said he heard a noise that sounded like thunder around 8 p.m. He felt his house, located about a half-mile from the blast site, shake for about a second.
McFarland, president of the Bluemont Civic Association — an Arlington organization that encompasses streets including North Burlington — looked out the window of his home, searching for signs of what had happened. It was only when he walked toward the end of his street, where several neighbors had gathered, that he saw red and orange flames in the distance, he said.
McFarland, who has lived in the area for more than 30 years, said he doesn’t remember another explosion within the boundaries of the Bluemont Civic Association.
“We look forward to finding out what happened and what lessons we might learn from it,” he said.
Authorities declared the fire under control Monday evening.
Flame and smoke were visible throughout Arlington and even in D.C. neighborhoods far from the explosion site. An aide to Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) said he was “monitoring the situation closely.”
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