A Reston man rolled a huge, steel cable spool to the front of his neighbor's blazing home Friday night, climbed on top and rescued a naked woman who was trapped on the roof of her two-story town house.
Minutes after Donis Goodavage, 35, of 2241 Southgate Square, raced from the shower she was rescued by her 6-foot-8-inch neighbor, fire officials said.
Her house was completely engulfed with flames and was quickly destroyed in a mysterious fire that caused an estimated $225,000 damage.
A Fairfax County fire department spokesman said yesterday that none of the furniture in the house was salvaged.
Neighbors, who watched the three-alarm blaze being fought by 65 firefighters, said Michael Keene, a 35-year-old newcomer to the area, heard Goodavage cry for help and quickly rolled the steel spool from a nearby back yard, where it served as a picnic table, to the front of Goodavage's home.
Keene said yesterday he noticed the fire after he saw Goodavage's 14-year-old son and two friends loading stereo equipment into a van.
"I thought I was going to be a hero stopping a burglary," he said. Instead, when he approached the van, he heard a women screaming: "Help, help."
He looked up and "there was a woman on the roof and she had no clothes on."
Goodavage, who was airlifted to Fairfax Hospital, was treated for second-degree burns to the face and hands and released yesterday.
Fire marshal Richard Simpson yesterday was investigating the fire, which department spokesman Mark Wheatley called "somewhat unusual." Wheatley said three minutes after the police department received the 6:50 p.m. call, firefighters arrived at the home and found the structure enveloped in flames.
The house was destroyed in the 25 minutes it took firefighters to battle the fire, Wheatley said. "The amount of damage that was done and the relatively short amount of time that it took," he said, has delayed determining the cause. Wheatley said investigators were uncertain if the home was equipped with smoke detectors.
A 16-inch thick concrete fire wall separating Goodavage's row house from two ajdoining homes probably saved the cluster of town houses from destruction, said fire department Lt. Ken Thompson. "It would have been a total loss. There is no question the wall sealed the fire off."
All new row houses must have fire walls according to the Fairfax County building codes.
Flames, which leaped around the fire wall and out of windows, caused about $75,000 damage to the adjacent row house at 2243 Southgate Square. Its roof caught fire, and smoke and water damaged some of its contents, officials said.
The row house on the opposite side of Goodavage's escaped with only $3,000 in smoke damage.
Neighbor Stanley W. Phillips said that when he saw the intensity of the fire he began taking his most cherished possessions out of his home.
"The roof started burning on the house next to me, so I grabbed my old overstuffed chair. . . . I guess the best way to describe it is it was 'my chair,' " Phillips said.
After he pulled it outside, he said, a flaming cinder fell on it and a firefighter chopped it up with an ax.
"I can't feel too badly about the chair," said Phillips. "I'm grateful for those fire walls. That fire was so close. I feel like I've been saved." CAPTION: Picture, A fire that officials are calling "somewhat unusual" caused an estimated $225,000 damage to this Reston town house. The Washington Post