Four-alarm condo fire in Lorton kills one, injures four, displaces many

(WJLA) - A fast-moving condo fire in Fairfax County left one person dead and forced many others to find a new place to stay Tuesday night.

The fire broke out Tuesday afternoon on Catbird Circle, which is part of the Gunston Corner condominium complex in Lorton, and neighbors say the victim was an adult female who is engaged to another neighbor.

She was trapped inside, unable to escape the growing flames.

"I'm very upset about that. I mean, my God, she was burned alive as far as I know -- she couldn't get out of her own place," said Suzanne Schaefer.

The victim has since been identified as Mary Ann Brookie, and neighbors say that her fiancé came to the building, hoping to find that she had made it out.

"I just couldn't imagine what he was going through -- they weren't 100-percent sure if she was home or not," said Brooke Kearnes.

Brooke Kearnes will have to spend the next three months in a hotel, but she came back to clean out her apartment and help others – whose lives are now laid out in dirty suitcases coated with ashes.

"Tons of water everywhere. Everything smells awful. Everything is covered in soot and water, it's like plaster on everything," she said.

Residents say that as tragic as the fire was, it could have been much worse. Fire Chief Richard Bowers told ABC7 firefighters rescued a number of people from the top two floors of the condos, which are four levels tall – including a basement.

Several residents told ABC7 that a few other people jumped to avoid the flames.

Fairfax County Fire says that about a dozen units will not be safe to stay in Tuesday night. The American Red Cross came to help some of the residents find another place to stay.

And while some residents likely won't be out of their condos for long, others won't be able to come back for a long time. Several condos were completely destroyed.

Fairfax County Fire and Rescue have not officially determined a cause of the fire, but confirm that four firefighters suffered minor injuries, and a department chaplain had to receive medical attention after it appeared that he was affected by the heat.

As residents mourned the loss of their neighbor, they were also grateful more people weren't injured or killed.

"I'm grateful," said resident Sandra McLean, a mother thankful her two children are okay. "God is still good. They're safe, a lot of us are out here that are safe. And the material things you can always replace."

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