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Posted at 10:55 AM ET, 11/ 7/2010

'Eyesore' burns in Falls Church

By Washington Post editors

A home under construction in Falls Church burned to its foundation early Sunday morning, WTOP reports.

No one was in the home, which neighbors called an "eyesore", when the fire broke out, just before 2 a.m.

NBC 4 is reporting an investigation will likely begin today into the cause of the blaze. No one was home at the time of the blaze and no one was hurt in the fire, NBC 4 reports. Photos show just how big the fire was.


eyesore1p.jpg
(Gerald Martineau/Post)


eyesore2p.jpg
(Gerald Martineau/For the Post)

eyesore3p.jpg
(Gerald Martineau/For the Post)

eyesore4p.jpg
(Gerald Martineau/For the Post)

By Washington Post editors  | November 7, 2010; 10:55 AM ET
 
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Comments

No uglier than any other house in the neighborhood. Google street view has a picture of it as a wood frame structure.

Posted by: blasmaic | November 7, 2010 2:45 PM | Report abuse

The house was gigantic and completely out of place in the neighborhood, towering over the other homes. It also had been under construction for several years, and did not, from my layman's perspective, appear to be well-constructed. Some had painted graffiti on it earlier (before siding had been installed) that read "I am Gigantor. I hate trees and yards" or something close to that. It will be interesting to see what, if anything, the investigation turns up. The fire marshall's office set up shop today and is planning on being there for days.

Posted by: sarner | November 7, 2010 9:27 PM | Report abuse

I agree with Sarner. I live in the neighborhood and the house was a big, ugly monstrosity. It had no real architectural style, it was just huge. I rode my bicycle over there to gawk yesterday afternoon and people were standing there talking about how ugly it had been and how the one curb cut on a busy street leading at a weird angle to its three car garage was impractical and would make using the garage difficult. It seemed poorly-designed as well as too ostentatious for the neighborhood.

That said, that the fire burned a four-story house to the ground and seems to have gone up VERY quickly made me think "arson." (Firefighters seem to have pretty easily saved the neighboring houses, while this one was completely destroyed. That says to me than this house went up very fast and all at once. Fires with one source and without accelerant don't really do that.) So that's my guess.

Posted by: OneElle | November 8, 2010 7:05 AM | Report abuse

Did the owner get proper permits? If people were suspicious, did they complain to city/county authorities? Are there loopholes in the regs/enforcement? Sounds like this whole situation should have been nipped in the bud.

Posted by: catbird500 | November 8, 2010 7:16 AM | Report abuse

My money goes on the next door neighbor. He seems to be a real nasty neighbor who I wouldn't want to live next to.

Posted by: mbrumble | November 8, 2010 8:17 AM | Report abuse

I also live in the neighborhood, my husband and I couldn't believe how the house was being constructed and how nothing was happening on it for such a long time. The first thing I said yesterday when I drove past it was "had to be arson". I feel bad for the people who were building the house, all that time and energy. My hope, though, is when it's reconstructed, something much simpler that makes more sense to the size of the plot will be put up in it's place.

Posted by: kmm2 | November 8, 2010 9:03 AM | Report abuse

I also live in the neighborhood, my husband and I couldn't believe how the house was being constructed and how nothing was happening on it for such a long time. The first thing I said yesterday when I drove past it was "had to be arson". I feel bad for the people who were building the house, all that time and energy. My hope, though, is when it's reconstructed, something much simpler that makes more sense to the size of the plot will be put up in it's place.

Posted by: kmm2 | November 8, 2010 9:03 AM | Report abuse

The owner probably torched it for the insurance money. Nobody home at 2am? How convenient.

Posted by: Baltimore11 | November 8, 2010 10:17 AM | Report abuse

hey, it's virginia.
if you move into the wrong neighborhood, build the wrong house, are the wrong color, speak the wrong language, they will burn your freaking house down.
meanwhile the states attorney general is busy getting ready to sue National Geographic for selling globes that depict a round planet Earth.

Posted by: MarilynManson | November 8, 2010 10:54 AM | Report abuse

Residents of Old Town feel that the subsidized housing in their neighborhood is an eyesore too, but I can't imagine you would excuse the burning of those homes with comments such as, "completely out of place in the neighborhood", "poorly designed", and "ugly". How is this different? Just because it's not your cup of tea doesn't mean it deserves to be destroyed, or shouldn't be built at all.

Posted by: aes22571 | November 8, 2010 11:08 AM | Report abuse

If ignorance is bliss MarilynManson must be in heaven.

Posted by: hodgensr | November 8, 2010 11:14 AM | Report abuse

The "serves them right for building a monstrosity" reactions on this blog are typical of NIMBYs and snobs who infest the inner suburbs.

The people who howl about "sprawl" and "Mc Mansions" in the further out communities and smugly tell others to "move closer to work and ride Metro" whenever suburban highways are proposed are the same ones who oppose anything built in "their" community that might "change the character of the area" in their ever narrow minds.

I hope whoever burned that house is caught and made an example of. Frankly, it would be really nice if the owners had the money and the wherewithall to investigate and "handle" the matter themselves.

Posted by: ceefer66 | November 8, 2010 11:17 AM | Report abuse

It's not easy heating a large structure on a cold winter night, but I hope most of us know a controlled burn is not a good solution.

Posted by: smart-aleck | November 8, 2010 11:48 AM | Report abuse

This house has been under construction for like 3 years. I suspect the owner was building the house without a construction loan and when he scraped together a few thousand dollarss he would have some workers come out for a few days until the money was spent and then the work would stop until he had more money. This structure was exposed to the elements for so long there had to be structural damage from rain and snow. I wouldn't be surprised if shoddy electrical work from unlicensed workers caused the fire.

Posted by: buffysummers | November 8, 2010 12:09 PM | Report abuse

The reason why so many consider it an eyesore was not just that it was an oversize home on a small lot surrounded by small, older ramblers. There are many larger and uglier homes along Westmoreland Street that have been built and occupied during the construction time frame of this house.

The issue that the neighbors have with the house is that it has been under construction for more than 3 years. The existing home was razed and the empty property laid bare for months. Then only the foundation was built and it was left like that for over a year. It then took the builder over a year and a half to frame the house and close it in.

Posted by: JPA2010 | November 8, 2010 12:11 PM | Report abuse

hey, it's virginia.
if you move into the wrong neighborhood, build the wrong house, are the wrong color, speak the wrong language, they will burn your freaking house down.
meanwhile the states attorney general is busy getting ready to sue National Geographic for selling globes that depict a round planet Earth.

Posted by: MarilynManson | November 8, 2010 10:54 AM
_________________________________________

You win, that's the dumbest thing I've heard in a month.

Posted by: damnit79 | November 8, 2010 1:25 PM | Report abuse

To clarify, my point was not "serves them right for building a monstrosity." Whoever "they" are will likely get a hefty insurance check out of this, probably for more than the likely damaged structure was worth. Then they can start their search for "the real arsonists" OJ-style.

The neighborhood has to put up with years more of eyesore and the house might well be rebuilt exactly as it was, though my guess is it won't be, and we all pay higher homeowner's insurance.

There aren't any winners here.

Also, until Metro comes up with more bike lockers at West Falls Church or I get to the top of the waiting list, I'm driving in also and I want all the highways I can get. The character of my neighborhood has changed whether I like it or not, I just think that someone with the money to build a giant house across the street from a school can afford to make their giant house beautiful and should.

Posted by: OneElle | November 8, 2010 2:57 PM | Report abuse

I also love in the neighborhood, heard the helicopter while watching TV, looked out and saw the blaze. People making comments about NIMBY, etc. have no idea what they are talking about. This neighborhood has had several massive McMansions pop up in the past five years. Two or three are being built right now. That's not the problem. The problem is the idiot building this let a horrible concrete foundation, that sits at the main entrance to our neighborhood, stall for two years.

Then came the awful piles of lumber sitting in the concrete foundation for a year. Finally in the past year the house has actually gone up. And when it went up, it was one of the ugliest things you could imagine. The front yard was a cement driveway, with a drop of about four to five feet from the street level. It had no yard whatsoever, and was a massive, unsightly eyesore. But we are used to that. We are not used to such an eyesore stalling for four years, and having the significant safety risk an open construction site posed across the street from an elementary school.

Fox 5 I believe, reported they talked to the owners wife. The house looked like it was finally almost done. The wife admitted they didn't plan on moving in for another few months. Clearly they had decided to stop building yet again. The owner frequently used it as a garage for a BMW. This person had no respect at all for the neighborhood, and that is why people are cheering.

No one has a right to take someone else's property and destroy it, so long as its done legally, and I hope they find and prosecute whoever did this since I don't feel safe knowing there is an arsonist at loose. But if you cant understand why the whole neighborhood woke up happy Sunday morning, I hope some arrogant, thoughtless person does the same thing that this fellow did for nearly half a decade in your neighborhood.

Posted by: hihi22 | November 8, 2010 6:43 PM | Report abuse

Funny how the BMW didn't happen to be parked there Sunday night.

Posted by: OneElle | November 8, 2010 6:49 PM | Report abuse

As much as I loath siding with the owner, especially since I have a sneaking suspicion he did it for the insurance (Not based on any facts, simply that someone who builds a house that large and has it stall for that long clearly has financial problems that an insurance check would certainly help.) But, I don't believe he has parked the BMW there since construction started ramping up. It was mainly when it was just the cement foundation and a rough wooden frame.

The house clearly had enemies in the neighborhood. I know I got a kick out of the spray painted Gigantor earlier this year. And I heard on Fox someone said the windows got broken before they were installed. But this is a well to do neighborhood. I don't believe anyone would be insane enough to risk their life simply to burn it down, given they know the guy would get insurance and build it even bigger. The fact it stalled for so long points to financial problems. It had been vandalized and the entire neighborhood had a problem with it. Thus, the owner simply need state "I've had previous crimes here, it's not a big leap to believe someone burned it down."' This clearly wasn't arson from some guy who gets off on it, that much is obvious. Combine that with the fact someone on WTOPs article said an Acetylene torch was on the premises, the ridiculous speed with which the house burned down... If the owner doesn't end up being investigated heavily and found guilty, I would be surprised.

Posted by: hihi22 | November 8, 2010 7:25 PM | Report abuse

A poster from a different blog noted that the owner of this house had a fire in their house last year that cost over 200K in damage. Is it possible that insurance settlement went to finish this house, and now they're going to cash out for the full value of the completed house in an insurance scam?

So according to the property records for this house:
http://icare.fairfaxcounty.gov/Forms/Datalets.aspx?mode=profileall&taxyear=2011&ownseq=1&roll=REAL&jur=000&sIndex=2&idx=1&pin=&card=1&item=1&State=1&items=-1

The owner of this house resides at:
(address) MCLEAN VA 22101

Which is very interesting because that house ALSO had a fire last year:
http://www.wtop.com/?nid=722&sid=1564341

Posted by: NavyBlues502 | November 9, 2010 5:14 PM | Report abuse

So according to the property records for this house, the owner of this house resides in Mclean at a house that ALSO had a fire last year.
http://www.wtop.com/?nid=722&sid=1564341

Posted by: NavyBlues502 | November 9, 2010 5:15 PM | Report abuse

I admit to some gratuitous snickering over the fate of Gigantor. But seriously, this house represented the failure of zoning and planning in this area. The needs and desires of the builders and owners for profits and big houses have to be balanced by esthetics, energy consumption, drainage concerns, etc. If that house was in compliance with zoning regs, clearly the zoning regs need to be changed.

Posted by: MisterW | November 11, 2010 8:45 AM | Report abuse

I admit to some gratuitous snickering over the fate of Gigantor. But seriously, this house represented the failure of zoning and planning in this area. The needs and desires of the builders and owners for profits and big houses have to be balanced by esthetics, energy consumption, drainage concerns, etc. If that house was in compliance with zoning regs, clearly the zoning regs need to be changed.

Posted by: MisterW | November 11, 2010 9:04 AM | Report abuse

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