Fire Rips Through Virginia Apartments

Virginia Beach (VA) Shortly after 1600 hours Saturday, April 17, 2004, Virginia Beach Emergency Communications received a call reporting an apartment fire in the Latitudes Apartments located in the Hilltop section of Virginia Beach. As fire units began responding, Dispatch was receiving numerous calls reporting heavy smoke from the building.

Battalion Chief David Wade was one of the first officers on scene and took up a position on Side A, parking on a basketball court overlooking the entire scene. He then began assigning individual units to various assignments such as hydrant hook-ups and aerial placement. In text book fashion, he orchestrated specific tasks such as master streams on all four sides which cut off the advancing flames to an exposure on Side B. Ironically, Side B Exposure suffered a three alarm fire on December 30, 1996 and the building was fully sprinklered when it was rebuilt.

A southerly wind also contributed to the rapidly spreading fire. After deciding to go from an offensive attack to defensive, Command (Chief Wade) assigned Ladder 11 to Side A and began sweeping the fire while Ladder 8 flowed their duel master streams on Side D. Numerous hand held master streams took up a position of Side C under the direction of Chief Mark Piland (Division C). Once the fire was knocked down, fire crews were then sent in for mop-up and final extinguishment.

Aggressive primary searches within the first few minutes resulted in no loss of life to the apartment inhabitants. However, over twenty families were displaced and apartment mangers and the Red Cross were busy through-out the day finding temporary lodging for the fire victims.

The fire was declared under control at 1750 hours. The cause of the fire is under investigation. For more photos, go to