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An alert resident leaving a Herndon apartment complex on her way to work Friday morning noticed a fire on a fourth-floor balcony, allowing firefighters to respond and prevent greater damage.

The fire took place in the 13000 block of Elm Tree Drive in Herndon.

Rachel Zabriskie, a resident in the building, said she was leaving for work shortly after 7 a.m. when she and a friend noticed the fire.

“The fire was growing bigger and starting to fall down to the balcony directly below it,” she said. “I called 911 and my friend Pam went to knock on all the doors because the smoke alarms hadn’t gone off yet and no one was awake. In less than 3 minutes, five firetrucks showed up to put it out.”

Capt. William Moreland, a spokesman for the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department, confirmed that there had been a patio fire at that address Friday morning. “It was a small fire with minimum extension,” he said.

Fairfax County firefighters from Station #36-Frying Pan responded to the call.

“There wasn’t anything obvious on the balcony as to why it would have started, but the people who lived there were home and came to the door when Pam knocked to tell them to get out,” Zabriskie said. “When I finally left for work at 8 a.m., the fire was out and firefighters were chain-sawing the burnt wood.”

Moreland said sawing fire-damaged wood is a routine procedure to ensure there is no more fire inside it.

It was not yet known what caused the fire or how much monetary damage was caused, he said. There were no injuries.

gmacdonald@fairfaxtimes.com