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A malfunctioning battery pack caused a townhouse fire in Frying Pan on Saturday (via Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department)

A malfunctioning battery pack has been ruled as the cause of a townhouse fire in the Frying Pan area of Fairfax County.

Fire officials say that the fire, which happened on Saturday (June 18) around 9:30 a.m., started in the third-floor bedroom of the townhouse on the 13000 block of Rose Petal Circle. A charging lithium-ion battery pack was to blame.

“No occupants were home at the time of the fire,” the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department said in an update released yesterday (Wednesday). “The fire was discovered by neighbors who observed fire coming from the third-floor window. 9-1-1 was called. Smoke alarms were present and activated, according to witness statements.”

Two dogs were rescued from the home. No injuries were reported.

The fire displaced two residents and caused roughly $93,750 in damages. Red Cross services were offered and declined.

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The Sandlot pop-up bar at The Boro in Tysons (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

The Boro in Tysons is going to the dogs this weekend, hosting a pair of canine-friendly events that will also benefit a local LGBTQ youth advocacy group.

The mixed-use development near the Greensboro Metro station is inviting pups and their humans alike to a “Yappy Hour” at 5-7 p.m. tomorrow (Friday).

The Sandlot Tysons (1640 Boro Place) will feature a Bone Bar with dog treats and branded bag holder giveaways and a photo opportunity in front of the word “bark” spelled out in “jumbo light-up letters,” according to a news release.

There will also be live music and cocktails, and the local nonprofit Wolf Trap Animal Rescue will be present to share information about fostering a dog. A portion of all beverage proceeds will go to Safe Space NOVA, an Alexandria-based nonprofit that provides support and resources to LGBTQ teens.

In addition to offering a support group, educational programs, and social activities, the organization will host its annual Pride Prom for high school students at The St. James in Springfield tomorrow. Designed to be inclusive of all genders and sexual orientations, the event had been on a two-year break due to the pandemic.

“In celebration of Pride Month, The Boro is excited to partner with one of the great local organizations aiming to help members of the LGBTQ+ community,” The Boro said in a statement. “Safe Space NOVA is dedicated to providing a safe, accepting and supporting environment to combat social stigmas, bullying and other challenges faced by LGBTQ+ youth.”

“Yappy Hour” is free and open to the general public, but the development encourages registering in advance through Eventbrite.

The following morning will bring a less-boozy affair with a “Camp Bark” training session at Boro Park.

A local trainer will lead the class for beginners from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday (June 25). Free coffee and treats will be available, and a portion of sales from the tickets, which cost $10 per dog, will be donated to Safe Space NOVA.

Registration on Eventbrite is required for participants.

Additional Pride Month events coming to the Tysons area this June include the Mosaic District’s first-ever Pride Celebration on Saturday and a concert by the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington at Capital One Hall on Sunday (June 26).

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A new social wellness club is coming to Springfield this summer (via Google Maps)

A new social wellness club is coming soon to Springfield.

Balian Springs describes itself as the first-ever, daily membership-based club that aims to curate “wellness journeys for those seeking a meaningful balance between mental, physical, person and social wellbeing,” according to marketing materials. It will be located at 6432 General Greenway near the I-395 and I-495 interchange.

The 100,000-square-foot club will include a beauty spa, eateries, a lounge, hydrotherapy pools, saunas and other facilities.

A business representative declined to comment on the new social wellness club but said details for the planned grand opening are expected soon and will be forthcoming via email updates.

The business conducted a hiring day on Monday (June 20) for licensed massage therapists, nail technicians, hair stylists, guest services, lifeguards, bartenders and other positions. More information on available positions can be found by emailing info@baliansprings.com.

Image via Google Maps

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A vibrant new active adult community is coming alive in Northern Virginia.

Home shoppers are already loving the main-level living villa homes offered at Cadence at Lansdowne. The close-knit community started with only 74 new homes available, and has already sold over 40% leaving just 42 opportunities remaining.

The luxury villas at Cadence at Lansdowne include a spacious main-level primary suite for easy daily accessibility, refined finishes and options for outdoor living space. Each also comes with a finished upper level, ideal for added storage or space to welcome guests. Both summer and fall 2022 move-ins are currently available, starting from the mid $600’s. Select homes are also eligible for myStyle personalization, which allows home shoppers to select finishes for a nearly-complete home and move-in in half the time of starting from scratch!

Within the community, homeowners will have access to an array of amenities to fill their days with excitement. These include a pickleball court, multi-sport court, picnic and grilling pavilion, walking trails and an amphitheater. There are even options for four-legged friends, with a community dog park and pet station also on-site.

Even more fun awaits in the local area as well. The community is ideally located in Lansdowne, putting homeowners in the center of one of Northern Virginia’s most sought-after destinations. Shopping, spas, golf and so much more will be in close proximity to Cadence at Lansdowne. Plus, it’ll put friends, family and other loved one based in the region within easy reach.

Homeowners at Cadence at Lansdowne will also enjoy all the benefits of low-maintenance living. From the main-level living homes with lawn care included to the on-site conveniences, they’ll have more time to take advantage of all the incredible opportunities that surround them.

This exceptional community is growing by the day, with a new model just opened and now available for tour. To learn more, visit CadenceAtLansdowne.com to request information or schedule an appointment.

Fixed-rate financing opportunities* are also available for a limited time on select homes, so be sure to ask the sales team for additional details. *Terms and conditions apply. See website for details.

The future Reston Town Center Metro station (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Metro has reached a major milestone with its Silver Line Phase 2 project.

The 11.4-mile rail extension from Reston into Loudoun County has achieved its “operational readiness date” and was formally handed over to Metro at 6 a.m. today (Thursday), interim Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority General Manager and CEO Andy Off announced during a board of directors meeting.

Off noted that Metro hasn’t technically accepted the project, as a number of steps remain to get it ready for passenger service. However, WMATA is now responsible for the rail line’s infrastructure and will start testing and training employees to familiarize them with the new facilities.

“This milestone enables our team to test the tracks and systems, train and familiarize our workforce on yard operations, mainline and stations and ensure that we provide safe and reliable service for customers on the extension,” Off said in a news release. “We look forward to opening the new stations soon and delivering high quality rail connections to Dulles Airport and Loudoun County.”

The second phase of the Silver Line has been in the works under the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority for almost a decade now, encountering numerous delays that have frustrated local residents, business owners, and elected officials.

Metro and Fairfax County transportation officials had suggested earlier this month that MWAA was finally almost ready to hand over the project, which will add six stations to the Silver Line from Reston Town Center to Ashburn.

The timeline for opening the new stations is still unclear. Off said it will take “a considerable amount of time” to train the 350 employees working at the new, 90-acre Dulles Airport rail yard facility, but the board of directors will be updated next month, and a launch date will be announced as the schedule gets refined.

“It is a major milestone, and we’re excited to get to this point finally,” said Matt Letourneau, a Virginia representative on the WMATA board.

Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn, who chairs the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors’ transportation committee, expressed relief at the “long-awaited” news.

“Years of investment in infrastructure, development and economic opportunities will soon pay off for residents and businesses in Fairfax County and our neighboring jurisdictions,” Alcorn said in a statement. “We’re all looking forwarding to WMATA’s announcement of when we can open the gates to riders and get these trains rolling!”

Virginia Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine also released a joint statement on the announcement with their counterparts from Maryland, Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen:

Today’s news takes us one big step closer to our shared goal of ensuring that our transportation infrastructure is reliable, convenient, and capable of keeping up with the National Capital Region’s growth. We welcome this development and encourage WMATA to safely and expeditiously put the finishing touches on this project so the Silver Line can fully open for customer service.

The first phase of the Silver Line, which runs through Tysons to the Wiehle-Reston East Metro station, opened in 2014.

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A utility pole appears to be down in a roadway where a crash occurred in Oakton (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

(Updated at 11:45 a.m.) The 18-year-old driver in the Oakton crash that killed two Oakton High School students earlier this month has been indicted.

A grand jury indicted Fairfax resident Usman Shahid on involuntary manslaughter charges Tuesday morning (June 21), Fairfax County Police Department said in a press release. Shahid is expected to turn himself in later today (Thursday), police said. More information on bond will be available then.

The department’s Crash Reconstruction Unit determined that, on June 4, Shahid was driving a 2018 BMW south on Blake Lane at a “high rate of speed” when he struck a 4Runner in the intersection, continued traveling south, and struck three high school students on the sidewalk. The car continued down Blake Lane and struck a utility pole.

Two of the pedestrians died, and the third was seriously injured. Fairfax County Police Chief Kevin Davis said at a press conference that she is now recovering at home.

Shahid and the front passenger of the car were transported to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. Two passengers in the rear seats of the BMW fled the scene, police said at the time.

The police investigation suggests that Shahid was driving around 81 mph when his car first hit the 4Runner, Davis said.

Davis said the BMW passengers have been identified. While noting that they shouldn’t have fled the scene, Davis said the passengers have cooperated with the investigation, and police don’t anticipate pressing charges against them.

“This is a tragic incident that could have been avoided, and our hearts break for the families of these two young girls,” Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano said in a news release. “…I am committed to working toward accountability in a manner that promotes healing for the families involved and the wider community.”

Shahid faces two counts of involuntary manslaughter, both felony charges that carry a maximum sentence of 10 years of jail time, according to Descano.

The crash prompted renewed calls for safety improvements on the Blake Lane corridor. A meeting is scheduled for tonight with stakeholders that will be livestreamed to Supervisor Dalia Palchik’s Facebook.

“Slow down, slow down, be a defensive driver,” Davis said. “There’s nothing so important you have to jeopardize your safety and the safety of others by getting some place 30 seconds faster.”

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The scene of a crash that injured six people in Oakton (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Fairfax County is considering the addition of photo speed cameras in school crossing and highway work zones.

The Fairfax County Police Department has been working on the initiative, and a plan will be finalized before it is presented to the Board of Supervisors in a report, Deputy County Executive for Safety and Security Tom Arnold previously told FFXnow.

Providence District Supervisor Dalia Palchik hopes to get Oakton High School into a pilot for the speed cameras, she told FFXnow. Two Oakton High students recently died after a driver struck them and another student walking on the sidewalk of Blake Lane, a corridor where the community has had growing safety concerns.

Police say the 18-year-old driver of the car was speeding on Blake Lane before crashing into an SUV and then striking the three students.

Nearby cities and counties have added the safety devices in the last few years since a state law passed in 2020 enabling jurisdictions to install speed cameras in school and construction zones. Arlington County passed its own law allowing the devices in January, and the City of Fairfax added cameras around schools last year.

The state law dictates that local governments can impose a civil penalty if a vehicle is traveling 10 mph or more above the posted speed limit. The penalty can’t exceed $100, state law outlines.

County and state officials will hold a community meeting tonight (Thursday) on possible safety improvements in the Blake Lane corridor. The meeting will take place on Zoom with Palchik livestreaming it on her Facebook page.

The county and state have discussed improvements in the past, such as the recent implementation of an additional $200 fine for speed limit violations on Blake Lane between Jermantown Road and Sutton Road.

How do you feel about adding speed cameras in school and construction zones in the county?

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Fairfax County police cars line up outside Tysons Corner Center (staff photo by James Cullum)

(Updated at 12:30 p.m.) A dispute between two Southeast D.C. “crews” at Tysons Corner Center led up to the gunfire in the mall Saturday, Fairfax County police said.

Fairfax County Police Chief Kevin Davis said Noah Settles, who turned himself into police last night (Wednesday), is associated with the Anacostia-based 37th Street Crew.

Settles, a 22-year-old also known as rapper No Savage, was with a group at the shopping center Saturday before encountering another D.C.-based “crew,” Simple City, Davis said. The former was wearing all black and the latter, all white.

“We’ve heard of these groups before in the National Capital Region,” he said. “They were both present at Tysons over the weekend in a crowded place where a lot of folks were simply going about their daily lives.”

They got into a verbal dispute before it escalated to a pushing and shoving match and Settles displayed a firearm, Davis said. A few minutes passed before Settles shot three rounds in a different location, not more than the length of a football field away from where the initial dispute was, Davis said.

“The shooting sent patrons and employees throughout the mall fleeing for the exits, others sheltered in place, and feared for the worst,” said Lt. Ryan Lazisky, Assistant Commander of the Major Crimes Bureau.

While no one was injured by the gunfire, three shoppers were injured while they attempted to flee and hide after hearing gunshots.

Davis said they have not recovered the firearm, but anticipate in the next few days they will recover the black Cadillac Settles used to flee.

Settles has been charged with attempted malicious wounding, three counts of discharging a weapon into an occupied building, and use of a firearm in commission of a felony. According to online court records, he had an arraignment hearing scheduled this morning, and a preliminary hearing is set for Aug. 15. He is being held with no bond.

Davis said Settles is no stranger to law enforcement in D.C., Prince George’s and, now, Fairfax County.

Police don’t know exactly what caused the initial dispute.

“I can’t speak necessarily, or at least intelligently, about the nature of this conflict other than it’s young men with a lot of anger and other societal issues to contribute to where they are in life that’s not always their fault,” he said. “But they’re armed all too often and, unfortunately, in this particular case and elsewhere, the resorting to firearms to settle a petty dispute is what gets us here today.”

Davis said thankfully Tysons has made a large public safety investment in cameras, which allowed police to capture video of Settles armed with a firearm and also captured the black Cadillac leaving Tysons as well.

He said no other crime scene in his entire career had generated so many personal phone calls to him.

“Because everybody shops, everybody goes to the movies, goes to a restaurant, hangs out at the mall if you’re a teenager,” he said.

People ask him, “is Tysons safe?”

“And the answer is, ‘of course it is,'” he said. “It’s safe today it’s going to be safe tomorrow, it defines life here in the National Capital Region.”

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Morning Notes

McLean Central Park gazebo (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Recent Gun Violence Leaves D.C. Area on Edge — “In the D.C. area in recent days, two shootings in crowded public spaces — at the festival on U Street and at a Fairfax County mall — reinforced that no one is immune from violence. As a result, some area residents have begun to pull back. People have started to think twice before going to concerts and the mall.” [The Washington Post]

Tysons Software Company Lays Off 54 Workers — “ID.me Inc. has laid off dozens of employees following a period of rapid growth and just months after the Internal Revenue Service halted use of ID.me’s facial recognition technology…The company had expanded rapidly during the pandemic to keep up with growing demand at the time” [Washington Business Journal]

Man Charged in Fairfax City Assault — “A Maryland man was charged in connection with an assault that took place Saturday afternoon on Main Street, Fairfax City police said in a news release. Ronaldo Thomas, 41, of Capital Heights, Maryland, was charged with one count each of strangulation and assault and battery in connection with the choking of a woman outside the Main Street Marketplace, police said.” [Patch]

Annandale Dollar Tree to Reopen — Construction appears to be underway to repair the entrance to the Dollar Tree in the Bradlick Shopping Center. The store has been closed since a car crashed through the glass doors in October, but signs posted on the new doors indicate the shop will reopen “soon” and is now hiring. [Annandale Today]

Still Crickets on Downtown Herndon Project — “It appears unlikely, virtually impossible, that Comstock could break ground on the Herndon Redevelopment Project before summer starts. A groundbreaking date was first anticipated in late 2019 with project completion possibly in 2021.” [The Connection]

Fairfax City Welcomes New Nail Salon — “Sure, it’s easy to find a nail salon in nearly every city. But one look inside Raizun Nail Spa in Fairfax City lets customers know this spacious and upscale business is different from the rest. ‘Their salon is absolutely gorgeous,’ said Danette Nguyen, the City’s assistant economic development director.” [The Connection]

Tropical Storm Ida Relief Still Available — “The Washington Metropolitan Area District Office of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) reminds eligible business owners in Fairfax…to apply for working capital loans before the July 18 deadline. This disaster loan program is available to small businesses…and most private nonprofit organizations that were affected by the remnants of Tropical Storm Ida that occurred from Aug. 31 through Sept 4, 2021.” [Fairfax County Emergency Information]

Benches Dedicated to Former County Leaders — “Former Board Chairman and Braddock District Supervisor Sharon Bulova and former Braddock District Supervisor John Cook had benches dedicated in their honor at the Braddock District Office, which is also home to the Kings Park Library.” [Patch]

It’s Thursday — Rain in the morning and afternoon. High of 75 and low of 63. Sunrise at 5:46 am and sunset at 8:39 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Headed to a potluck or party where additional dishes are welcome? Bring something healthy to help you and others age and eat well.

This biweekly column is sponsored by The Mather in Tysons, Virginia, a forward-thinking Life Plan Community for those 62 and better.

While we’re all likely enjoying more time at restaurants, outdoor gatherings, wedding receptions and birthday parties, we may suddenly gain some extra pounds with all of these added festivities!

This can be particularly true for those age 60 and better, who may gain weight more quickly due to natural changes in metabolism and hormones. Of course, you can try to burn off those extra calories with exercise — but it’s also good to practice moderation in the first place.

Here are some tips to help party-goers of all ages avoid the gain and still have fun:

  • If you’re an evening exerciser, try moving your workouts to the mornings, that way get-togethers don’t interrupt your exercise routine.
  • Don’t go to a party hungry! You’ll have more will power if you eat a healthy, filling snack before you leave. Try an apple with peanut butter, or Greek yogurt mixed with fruit.
  • If you’re heading to a potluck or party where additional dishes are welcome, bring something healthy, like a veggies and dip platter. That way you’ll have at least one nutritious choice.
  • When you arrive at an event, discreetly scope out the food options before you start nibbling. Choose the healthiest options and decide which treats you must have — then skip the rest.
  • Have a piece of sugarless gum or a mint ready for when you’ve eaten all you think you should.
  • Throw your own party where you can control what’s served. Include healthy options for drinks as well as dining.
  • When drinking, stick with wine, sparkling wine, or beer. You’ll avoid high-calorie mixers in many cocktails — including soda water, tonic, and juices.
  • Alternate each alcoholic beverage with a glass of still or sparkling water. This will help keep you hydrated and sober, and save calories for the goodies at the buffet!
  • Be aware of how many calories (and how much alcohol) is in your glass. Depending on the generosity of your bartender, your glass of wine may hold more than a standard serving (5 ounces).

The Mather, projected to open in Tysons, VA, in 2024 for those 62 and better, is a Life Plan Community where residents will have countless culinary options at their fingertips through modern, high-end kitchens in apartment homes and multiple restaurants onsite.

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