129-Year-Old Seminary Burns Down in Alexandria

By Peter DePaolis

The Virginia Department of Fire Programs reported a $278 million loss in 2009 due to fires. It also reported that every 19 hours a fire has either injured or killed someone throughout the state. The presence of fire alarms and automatic sprinkler systems can significantly reduce the amount of damage caused by fires.

A fire recently destroyed a 19th-century seminary in Alexandria. It started at 3:55 p.m. in the afternoon and caused catastrophic damage to the structure of the wood. Authorities estimated the damage at $2.5 million. The fire came as devastating news to members of the chapel, as the 129-year-old building had been the place of countless marriages, funerals, ordainments, and even a visit from former President Gerald Ford during his presidency.

Shortly after the fire, federal authorities from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives began an investigation to determine its cause. About a week later, they concluded that the fire was an accident, the source being a trashcan near a heater in a room that housed the chapel’s vestments. The chapel did not have a sprinkler system or any smoke detectors. The chapel’s board of trustees reported that it would rebuild the entire structure.

Victims of fire can consult with a Northern Virginia burn accident lawyer to hold negligent parties responsible. For more information, contact Peter DePaolis, a Northern Virginia personal injury attorney, at Koonz, McKenney, Johnson & DePaolis L.L.P.

About the Author
Peter DePaolis joined the firm in 1980 and has since represented a large number of individuals involved in automobile collisions, truck accidents, bus crashes, defective products, and medical malpractice cases. A significant portion of Mr. DePaolis’ practice is devoted to working on behalf of people suffering from asbestosis, mesothelioma, and other asbestos-related cancers. He has led his firm’s fight against the asbestos industry and has recovered over $30 million in damages for asbestos victims and their families.