Fourteen people were hurt when a car slammed into an Irish pub, causing the building to catch fire in Arlington’s Courthouse neighborhood Friday evening.
Medics took eight people to hospitals, and four of them were critically injured, Virginia’s Arlington County police said. The other four patients have injuries that are not life-threatening, according to police. Medics treated six other people at the scene, and they are all OK, police said.
Photos of the scene at Ireland’s Four Courts show a gaping hole in the front of the building with clouds of smoke pouring out.
A spokesperson for the fire department said the crash happened about 6:45 pm, and firefighters arrived to the pub to find it engulfed in flames. The fire has since been extinguished, the fire department said.
“I was just talking to some regulars that come in and I heard a bang. We all heard a ban, an explosion so I just turned around and I saw all the debris coming towards the back of the pub. So, it was just pure panic,” Mary Reilly, a server at the pub, told News4. “It was just pure panic. ‘Everybody out the back, everybody out the back.’ That’s what it was. Just panic.”
Reilly said she didn’t see the car at all from where she was, and she saw smoke and debris.
“I thought the whole place was just going to explode,” she said.
Reilly said she believes the amount of people injured would have been worse had the bar been busier, as it typically is on a Friday night.
“It’s the grace of God that we weren’t busy tonight. Of course, servers, bartenders complain that we’re not being busy, but
we’re usually packed. That top bar where the car went through is usually packed,” she said.
It’s too early to know why the car crashed into the building or the extent of the structural damage to the pub, the spokesperson said. While it’s unclear what direction the car was traveling before the crash, the restaurant sits at an intersection with N. Courthouse Road ending at Wilson Boulevard.
More than an hour after the crash, dozens of firefighters, medics and police officers were still working at the scene.
Ireland’s Four Courts is a popular spot for soccer fans and the bar’s trivia nights also garner crowds.
The pub has been around for 20 years, according to its website. It asked in a tweet to “Keep all the injured in your thoughts and prayers.”
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