Reston, VA
Roer’s Zoofari (Photo via Roer’s/Facebook)

Roer’s Zoofari has reopened after a fire broke out that killed two beloved giraffes earlier this month.

The zoo at 1228 Hunter Mill Road started welcoming visitors again for walk and drive-through visits on Monday (March 15), according to their Facebook, a week after a fatal barn fire left giraffes Waffles and Belagin dead.

The zoo has posted a remembrance on the website for the two animals.

“Waffles has been the heart of Roer’s Zoofari for 5 years. As we grieve we can look back at his legacy he leaves behind,” it reads in part. “Rest in peace Waffles, you will never be forgotten.”

For Belgian, it notes that he was recently brought to the zoo as a companion for Waffles.

“Tragically his time here was cut short. But in his few weeks at Roer’s Zoofari, he uplifted the spirits of visitors and staff,” the remembrance says. “He helped make Waffles’ last days an absolute joy as they played in the sun.”

Areas, including the barn, remain blocked off as an investigation is still ongoing, zoo owner Vanessa Roer writes Reston Now in an email.

At 5:30 p.m. on March 8, zoo staff was contacted by Fairfax County fire dispatch, according to a statement on the zoo’s website.

Staff arrived and were able to rescue about 20 other animals. They could not reach the giraffes, who were trapped in their stalls in the barn.

The giraffes likely died of smoke inhalation, the statement says.

While no cause has yet to be officially determined, staff believe the fire resulted from a heater that was being used to keep animals warm overnight in the barn during cold temperatures.

About a third of the barn was destroyed.

Additionally, in recent days, a petition has been circulating to shut down the zoo. Currently, there’s about 550 signatures.

It cites the alleged mistreatment of animals and violation of the Animal Welfare Act as reasons. No evidence of such claims is offered.

There have been several notable incidents and controversies over the last decade at the zoo, many of which occurred prior to the current ownership taking over in 2016.

For decades, the zoo near Lake Fairfax was known as “Reston Zoo” but it was sold to Vanessa and Jacob Roer after several high-profile animal cruelty charges. This includes the zoo’s previous director pleaded guilty of drowning an injured wallaby.

Other incidents include improper care provided to a spider monkey and exposing warm-weathered porcupines to cold temperatures.

At the time, Reston Zoo ownership chalked it up to mistakes, keeper error, and bad process.

Reston Now did send the petition to current zoo staff for comment but has yet to hear back as of publication.

Photo via Roer’s/Facebook

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Morning Notes

Fire Watch In Effect — A fire weather watch is in effect today from noon to 5 p.m. The National Weather Service notes that breezy winds, low humidity and dry conditions can cause fires to spread rapidly. [Ready Fairfax]

County 9-1-1 Service Officially Restored — The county’s 9-1-1 line is running smoothly again. Most of the day on Wednesday, call capacity was limited and callers experienced longer wait times. [Fairfax County Government]

The Top Ten Percent — Ten percent of Virginians are officially fully vaccinated and more than two million doses have been administered throughout the state, according to state data. Older adults have the most vaccine doses among age groups. [Reston Patch]

Metro Dodges Service Cuts — The passage of the American Recovery Plan will help Metro avert major service cuts and layoffs. However, the direct impact of the passage of the federal relief package is still unclear. Metro’s Board of Directors chairman notes that it is not yet known how much Metro will receive. [Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Staff at Roer’s Zoofari in Reston say they’re devastated after a barn fire killed the family-run zoo’s only two giraffes on Monday.

Although the blaze was brought under control, Waffles, a seven-year-old giraffe, and his companion, a giraffe that zoo owner Vanessa Roer acquired two weeks ago, were killed in the fire.

Staff at the zoo recently created a memorial outside the entrance of the zoo. People have been leaving flowers and balloons in memory of Waffles, a zoo-goer-favorite. 

According to Roer, 20 other animals were rescued after the blaze destroyed nearly one-third of the barn.

‘Waffles was a favorite with our visitors and our team,’ Roer said. ‘We are heartbroken.’

A spokesperson for the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department told Reston Now that an investigation on the cause of the fire and the extent of damages is underway.

Preliminarily, staff believe that the fire may have been caused by a heater used to keep animals warm in the barn overnight.

The zoo is closed until Friday.

Three macaws were taken to Leesburg Wild Animal Park Monday night after the zoo’s veterinarian ruled out any signs of smoke inhalation. All other animals were relocated inside the zoo.

The current owners took over the zoo, which was formerly known as Reston Zoo, in 2016. The former zoo’s director pleaded guilty to animal cruelty charges.

Photo via Vanessa Roer

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Tuesday Morning Notes

Apartment Fire on Castle Rock Square Under Control — A fire broke out in the bathroom of an apartment building on the 2200 block of Castle Rock Square late yesterday. No injuries were reported. [Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department]

Hands-free Cell Phone Laws Go Into Effect — Beginning Jan. 1, it is against the law to hold a phone or mobile device while driving. [Fairfax County Police Department]

Local Reston Heroes Who Went Above and Beyond — Three Restonians were honored for being local heroes by Patch readers. They include a member of the Reston Community Center Board, a childcare worker, and the owners of ArtInsights Gallery of Film and Contemporary Art. [Reston Patch]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Several boxes were on fire in the hallway of an apartment building in Herndon on Tuesday morning.

The Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department arrived to the building, which is located in the 12900 block of Mansarde Avenue, at around 9 a.m.

The burning boxes, which had activated the building’s sprinkles, were removed from the building before the fire department arrived.

Crews worked to remove some from the first floor of the building. No injuries were reported.

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A townhouse fire on the 13300 block of Apgar Place that started this morning is now under control, according to the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department.

When units got to the scene, smoke was showing from the townhouse unit. The fire was located in the wall and quickly extinguished around 7:46 a.m., the department wrote.

No injuries were reported.

Photo via FCFRD

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Seven residents have been displaced following a house fire on the 1400 block of Bayshire Lane in the Town of Herndon on Oct. 18.

Fire investigators ruled that the fire in the single-family home was caused by an unattended candle. Information about the incident was released today (Monday). The c candle was left burning in the master bathroom,  according to the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department.

Fire and rescue crews from the FCFRD, Loudoun County Fire and Rescue Department and the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Fire and Rescue Department responded to the scene a few minutes before 1:30 a.m. that day.

The incident caused roughly $93,750 in damages. Seven people were at home when the fire began. No injuries were reported.

FCFRD is reminding residents of the following safety tips:

  • Never leave burning candles unattended
  • Keep all combustible materials away from open flames
  • Do not burn candles near windows or doorways
  • Place candles in glass or ceramic containers
  • Place candles on a flat, sturdy non-combustible surface
  • Never leave candles burning when children or pets are present
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A malfunctioning surge protector caused a townhouse fire in the 2400 block of Pyrenees Court in Reston, according to the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department.

Fire investigators determined the fire was accidental in nature.

The incident happened a little before 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday. Smoke alarms alerted two occupants about the fire in the bedroom.

Officials estimate the fire caused $18,750 in damages. No injuries were reported.

Photo via Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department

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A fire broke out at a townhouse on the 2400 block of Pyrenees Court in Reston earlier this afternoon.

According to the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department, crews extinguished the fire by around 2 p.m. today (Tuesday). No injuries were reported.

No other information was immediately available. The cause of the fire is currently unknown.

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A two-story, single-family home in Reston caught fire on Sept. 19, displacing two occupants and leaving approximately $65,500 in damages.

The Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department dispatched units to the 11500 block of Greenwich Point Road at 5:17 on Saturday after receiving a report of a house fire.

Witnessing fire on the house’s roof when they arrived on the scene, responders worked to control the fire from the building’s exterior before transitioning inside to extinguish the blaze.

The fire was accidental in nature, resulting from an electrical event that started in the interior wall of a second-floor bedroom, the department reported in a news update on Wednesday.

According to the fire and rescue department, two occupants were home at the time of the fire. They self-evacuated after a neighbor who observed flames on the roof alerted them to the fire, which did not activate smoke alarms due to its location in the house.

No civilian or firefighter injuries have been reported as a result of the fire.

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Fire investigators say that a fire at North Point Village Center last week was caused by a lightning strike.

The June 11 fire was contained to the former location of The Boston Market, which has been vacant since July.

No injuries were reported and no occupants were present during the incident. Fire and rescue crews responded to the scene after a delivery person noticed the flames from the roof at around 3 a.m. that day.

The incident resulted in nearly $75,000 in damages, according to the  Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department.

A fire also occurred on the roofline of the same building in August 2019.

Photos via Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department

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Improperly discarded fireworks caused nearly $80,000 in damages to a Herndon home on Sunday (June 13). 

No injuries were reported at the home on the 13100 block of Rounding Run Circle.

According to the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department, the fire started in the garage where fireworks were improperly discarded.

The fire department is encouraging residents to dispose fireworks using the same procedure for fireplace ashes. Fireworks should be placed in a metal container, doused with water, and covered with a metal lid away from the house. 

Four residents, who were home at the time, were displaced due to the incident. The fire was largely limited to the attached garage.

This is the second fire this year caused by improper disposal of fireworks.

Photos via FCFRD

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A fire broke out in North Point Village Center around 3 a.m. today (Thursday).

Crews from the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department quickly extinguished the fire, which was primarily isolated to the building’s roof.

The cause of the fire is currently under investigation. No injuries were reported.

Damages are estimated at $75,000. 

The village center was also vandalized with swastikas and other graffiti last month.

Photos via Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department

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Updated at 12:15 p.m. on May 28 —  Though no one was injured, three people were displaced by the fire. 

Fire crews brought a townhouse fire under control yesterday afternoon in Herndon, according to the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department.

Units that first arrived on scene reported signs of fire from the two-story building at 13300 Schwenger Place.

Crews worked to extinguish the fire. No injuries were reported.

Photo via Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Twitter

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Officials from the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department are investigating the case of a fire at a Reston townhouse over the weekend.

A unit on the 2200 block of Double Eagle Court caught fire on Sunday (May 7). Multiple units responded during the incident.

A firefighter was treated for minor injuries at a local hospital.

The department has not yet indicated what caused the incident. The fire was contained to one unit.

Photo by Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department

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