Former senator and Virginia governor Chuck Robb, wife injured in massive house fire
Former U.S. senator and Virginia governor Charles Robb and his wife, Lynda Robb, a daughter of the late President Lyndon Johnson, were injured when a large blaze broke out at their Virginia home late Tuesday night, their family said.
Charles Robb, 82, was treated for smoke inhalation and released from a hospital, while Lynda Robb, 77, remains hospitalized, having suffered second-degree burns from her wrist to her elbow and smoke inhalation, said Luci Baines Johnson, the sister of Lynda Robb.
Johnson said both are expected to survive.
“The facts are they are still with us,” Johnson said. “They are both extraordinarily strong and accomplished people. They have spent 54 years together. My heart is shattered for them.”
Firefighters were sent to the scene in McLean, Va., around 11:30 p.m. in response to multiple 911 calls, said Bill Delaney, a Fairfax County fire department spokesman. The massive blaze in the 600 block of Chain Bridge Road could be seen across the Potomac River in Maryland and Washington, D.C.
Johnson said her sister was in the library of the home on the ground floor when the fire began, while Charles Robb was working in the basement. Johnson said it is unclear what sparked the blaze, but authorities are exploring whether the origin might have been electrical.
Johnson said her sister became aware of the fire first and made her way to her husband in the basement to warn him.
“It sounds to me like she was pretty heroic in finding him and getting out,” Johnson said.
Photographs showed fire raging on what appeared to be both floors of at least part of the house. The photographs showed fire within the house, just behind an entrance portico that includes rectangular brick or stone columns supporting a hipped roof.
“It was a very large house, and a significant portion of the house was engulfed in flames,” Delaney said.
When firefighters arrived, they found one occupant of the home outside, Delaney said. Firefighters went inside and helped a second occupant out of the home, before both were transported to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
It took roughly 60 firefighters from three counties about 1½ hours to control the fire. Crews remained on the scene Wednesday morning dousing hot spots.
On Wednesday morning, a neighbor, Pamela Wright, said firefighters were swarming the scene of the home.
“There’s debris everywhere,” Wright said. “In our driveway, there are big burned chunks of what look like insulation.”
Fairfax County fire investigators were still trying to determine a cause of the fire. Their investigation could take weeks. Delaney said an estimate of the cost of the damage was still being prepared. It was unclear whether the home would be a total loss.
It was assessed at $3.4 million in 2021 and sits on a 2.1-acre lot, according to Fairfax County records.
Delaney said investigators had yet to uncover any indications of arson or foul play. The Fairfax County police said they were not part of the investigation of the fire.
Properties on that stretch of Chain Bridge Road have been highly valued. In 2013, a report in The Washington Post’s Reliable Source column said property there, where the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., had lived on six acres, was on the market for $45 million.
The report called the site a “posh address” with millionaire neighbors.
The Washington Post’s Dana Hedgpeth contributed to this report.