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Westlake Legal Group > National News

Coast Guard suspending search for missing Fairfax firefighter at sundown

The U.S. Coast Guard will suspend its active search for two missing firefighters, including one from Fairfax County, at sundown.

U.S. Coast Guard Capt. Mark Vlaun said during a noon news conference that the Coast Guard is no longer able to search with any reasonable degree of success.

The search is now goes from off the coast of New England to Florida.

Justin Walker, a master technician for the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department, was last seen going on a fishing trip with his friend Brian McCluney, a member of the Jacksonville, Florida, fire department.

The pair left early Friday on McCluney’s 24-foot center console boat off Port Canaveral.

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Vienna Metro area could see more traffic; Heavy storms expected for Wednesday

Traffic near the Vienna Metro station could increase in coming months, resulting from a bridge over Interstate 66 closing for one year as part of a toll lane construction. A ramp onto the interstate will also close permanently. Vaden Drive is set to be closed for 10 months starting in late October. Both Vienna Metro garages will remain open during construction. (WTOP)

Heavy storms on Tuesday that included 1-inch hail and heavy winds caused damage across the DMV and left some Dominion Energy and Pepco customers in the dark into the evening. As of Wednesday morning, power has been restored to a majority of residents. More heavy storms are expected to move into the region Wednesday afternoon. (WUSA9)

OmniRide and Northern Virginia Community College have teamed up to offer a pass for students, faculty and staff at NoVA’s Woodbridge and Manassas campuses, costing $80 per month. The pass is valid through the end of December on OmniRide Local, Cross County Connector and Metro Express Buses. (WTOP)

A photo of a young girl taken outside of Ulta in the Village at Leesburg has gone viral. Maren Anderson, a local resident with Pontocerebellar hypoplasia, who uses a wheelchair for mobility, stopped to admire an advertisement in the window of the store that featured a model in a wheelchair. Anderson’s mother shared the photo on social media, which has gathered more than 73,000 shares and 84,000 likes. (Loudoun Times-Mirror)

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Rescuers cling to hope of finding two missing firefighters off coast of Florida

(JACKSONVILLE, Fla.) — A flotilla of volunteers answered the call on Tuesday to join the search off the Florida coast for two firefighters who failed to return from a fishing trip on Friday.

As the search for Jacksonville, Florida, Firefighter Brian McCluney and Fairfax, Virginia, Firefighter Justin Walker stretched into its fifth day on Tuesday, search-and-rescue crews clung to hope of finding the two men alive but conceded they are in a “race against time.”

Search crews focused on an area of ocean where a civilian found a bag belonging to McCluney on Monday.

U.S. Coast Guard Capt. Mark Vlaun declared at a news conference Tuesday that the search mission has not changed.

“We remain optimistic, but guardedly so. At this point it is 100% still a rescue operation,” Vlaun said.

More than 200 people, including members of the U.S. Coast Guard, Navy and local law enforcement, were out combing the ocean in boats and aircraft.

For the second consecutive day, Jacksonville Fire Chief Keith Powers sent out word for volunteers with boats that have the fuel capacity and capability to safely travel at least 60 miles offshore.

He said that on Wednesday the search would shift further north and asked for volunteer boaters from Savannah and Brunswick, Georgia, to join the rescue effort.

“I would say the next 24 hours are absolutely critical,” Vlaun said on Tuesday afternoon. “I can’t put it any clearer that we are absolutely in a race against time at this point.”

He said searchers found a top to a cooler on Tuesday in the general vicinity McCluney’s bag was discovered floating on the surface of the ocean. He said “we assume” the cooler top came from the boat McCluney and Walker were on.

Vlaun said another big challenge is the strong gulf current moving north and taking any new clues with it.

“Without additional clues, the area becomes vast,” Vlaun said.

On Tuesday, more than 75 boats were deployed, nearly doubling the number from Monday, to search an area about 50 nautical miles off the coast of St. Augustine, where McCluney’s fishing tackle bag was located, officials said. Eleven airplanes were also involved in the search on Tuesday.

McCluney’s wife, Stephanie, confirmed in a Facebook post that she identified the bag recovered from the ocean as belonging to her husband.

“I wholeheartedly believe this is a bread crumb they [threw] overboard to say, ‘We are here, come find us,’” Stephanie McCluney said in her Facebook post on Monday night, which included a photo of the bag.

Coast Guard officials said the search, using boats and military aircraft, have covered more than 50,000 square miles of ocean since it began Friday night. Crews searched 13,000 square miles on Tuesday alone, Vlaun said.

McCluney and Walker were last seen on Friday launching a 22-foot fishing boat at Port Canaveral, which is near the Kennedy Space Center, U.S. Coast Guard officials said.

One of the main reasons McCluney and Walker were taking the fishing boat out for the day was to honor Brian McCluney’s recently-departed father, Stephanie McCluney said.

“[Brian] wanted to get those lines wet one more time. You know, one big final hurrah for his dad and it was just supposed to be one great day in his honor … he was excited to get out there on the water,” said Stephanie McCluney.

When the men failed to return to shore by 8 p.m. on Friday, their family members reported them missing.

About 50 firefighters from the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department joined the Coast Guard in searching for the lost firefighters, combing the waters between Daytona Beach and Vilano in 11 boats over the weekend.

When asked on Tuesday how much longer the search will continue, Vlaun said, “ultimately, that’s a decision that will fall to me and I can only tell you that for today we’re continuing to search and we’re searching heavily based on what we learned today.”

“Each day we effectively have to take a look at what did we find the day before … and do we still have a reasonable chance for success,” Vlaun said. “For today, that answer is yes.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Search intensifies for 2 missing firefighters off Florida

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Authorities say they are ramping up the search for two missing firefighters who set out by boat last week from the state’s Atlantic coast.

Jacksonville Interim Fire Chief Keith Powers said the agency was calling for as “many boats” as could be mustered Tuesday in the ongoing search for Brian McCluney and Justin Walker. The firefighters departed last Friday on their outing aboard a 24-foot (7.3-meter) vessel from Port Canaveral.

The U.S. Coast Guard and other agencies have been searching a wide expanse of ocean between Cape Canaveral and Jacksonville off Florida’s east coast. On Monday, crews found McCluney’s fishing tackle bag some 50 miles (80 kilometers) off St. Augustine in north Florida.

McCluney works for the Jacksonville department while Walker is a master technician with the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department in Virginia, just outside the nation’s capital.

McCluney’s wife said Tuesday the discovery of her husband’s tackle bag has given her hope that the men will be found. In a Facebook post, Stephanie McCluney added that she believed the bag was thrown overboard by the men to help those who are searching for them.

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NoVA housing markets most competitive in the country; Heat index to reach 100 degrees Tuesday

Arlington and Alexandria’s real estate markets continue to heat up prior to the arrival of Amazon’s HQ2. The real estate firm Redfin named them the two most competitive real estate markets for potential home buyers in the country. Considered factors were the highest numbers of competing offers, how quickly homes are being sold and how much they sold above list price. (WTOP)

The heat index for the DMV will be upward of 100 degrees through Thursday according to the latest forecast. Tuesday can expect to see isolated storms and showers with a high of 94 degrees. Look forward to a cold front, which should drop temperature and humidity, by Friday. (WUSA9)

A new app has been released for Fairfax County students and parents: “Here Comes the Bus.” The Fairfax County School system is introducing the bus-tracking app with hopes to optimize morning and afternoon timing of bus arrivals and departures for students. The app can send real-time bus locations via text or email alerts. (WTOP)

Sterling resident Britt Shyrene, a local independent chef in Loudoun County and beyond, will appear on Food Network’s Supermarket Stakeout, tonight at 10 p.m. Shyrene will compete in the supermarket and culinary challenge on the episode titled “Date Night Fry Day.” (Inside NoVA)

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Search for missing firefighters off Florida coast includes Fairfax Co. member

Westlake Legal Group firefighters-picture-e1566211617481 Search for missing firefighters off Florida coast includes Fairfax Co. member virginia news nick iannelli National News missing persons Local News Latest News Justin Walker Jacksonville Florida Fairfax County, VA News Fairfax County Fire & Rescue boating
The search goes on for missing firefighters Justin Walker, right, and Brian McCluney, left, from Jacksonville, Florida. Walker is from Virginia’s Fairfax County. (Courtesy Jacksonville Firefighter Charities)

The search continues for two firefighters — including one from Fairfax County, Virginia — who have gone missing after a fishing trip off the Florida coast.

Justin Walker, a master technician for Fairfax County Fire and Rescue, was last seen going on the trip with his friend Brian McCluney, a member of the fire department in Jacksonville, Florida.

The pair launched early Friday on McCluney’s 24-foot center console boat off a ramp in Port Canaveral. By late Friday night, family members contacted the U.S. Coast Guard and said the two did not return as planned and could not be reached by phone.

On Monday, Chief Keith Powers with Jacksonville Fire and Rescue said in an update that a tackle bag was found 50 miles east of St. Augustine, near Jacksonville, and family members had identified the bag as belonging to McCluney.

Search efforts are being directed into that area, Powers said, and it’s likely that some boats may be offshore all night.

“We’re going to ramp up our search in the area where that bag was found,” Powers said. He asked for interested volunteers with a boat, capable of working 30-60 miles off shore, to help with search efforts Tuesday morning.

“We’re going to find these guys,” Powers said. “We finally started zeroing in a little bit today. We’re going to find them. Absolutely, it’s a rescue mission.”

The nonprofit Jacksonville Firefighter Charities has set up an online fundraiser for the search effort and to help the firefighters’ families.

Multiple local, state and federal agencies joined the search effort, including the U.S. Navy.

Jacksonville Fire and Rescue had sent 50 firefighters out on 11 boats. Powers told local station WJXT that other fire departments across that area have been stepping up. “That’s just a unique bond that only firefighters share, and it’s shared throughout the country. You hear the cliché that it’s a second family, but it really is a second family,” he said.

Earlier, the Coast Guard said the search had covered more than 20,000 square miles so far, extending north of Jacksonville and 80 miles off shore.

On Sunday, the Coast Guard investigated a debris field that was spotted about 50 miles off the coast of St. Augustine. The agency later said on Twitter that it was a false alarm.

“No boats found and floating items turned out to be other debris not related to the boaters,” the Coast Guard said. “Crews are expanding search patterns in the area.”

The search for Walker is on the minds of firefighters in Virginia.

Fairfax County Fire and Rescue said in a statement Monday afternoon that the department is in contact with Walker’s family and Jacksonville Fire and Rescue.

“We remain optimistic that they will be found,” the department said. “We are working closely with authorities in Florida to provide assistance and coordinate any resource needs. Please keep these firefighters, their families and friends in your thoughts and prayers.”

Fairfax County Professional Firefighters & Paramedics President Ron Kuley said that his organization is cautiously optimistic. “It gets a little emotional thinking about this. It’s a very difficult situation, but we’re hoping for a positive outcome,” he said.

Kuley thanked all the people who are searching for the men, saying they have been doing an “extraordinary” job.

“Our brothers out there are alive and they’re going to be found,” Kuley said. “We just need a lot of positive energy and prayers.”

WTOP’s Abigail Constantino and Teta Alim contributed to this report.

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Tackle bag found; Search for Fairfax Co. firefighter and Fla. firefighter continues

Westlake Legal Group firefighters-picture-e1566211617481 Tackle bag found; Search for Fairfax Co. firefighter and Fla. firefighter continues virginia news nick iannelli National News missing persons Local News Latest News Justin Walker Jacksonville Florida Fairfax County, VA News Fairfax County Fire & Rescue boating
The search goes on for missing firefighters Justin Walker, right, and Brian McCluney, left, from Jacksonville, Florida. Walker is from Virginia’s Fairfax County. (Courtesy Jacksonville Firefighter Charities)

The search continues for two firefighters — including one from Fairfax County, Virginia — who have gone missing after a fishing trip off the Florida coast.

Justin Walker, a master technician for Fairfax County Fire and Rescue, was last seen going on the trip with his friend Brian McCluney, a member of the fire department in Jacksonville, Florida.

The pair launched early Friday on McCluney’s 24-foot center console boat off a ramp in Port Canaveral. By late Friday night, family members contacted the U.S. Coast Guard and said the two did not return as planned and could not be reached by phone.

On Monday evening, Chief Keith Powers with Jacksonville Fire and Rescue said in an update that a tackle bag was found 50 miles east of St. Augustine, near Jacksonville, and family members had identified the bag as belonging to McCluney. The bag was found by a civilian searcher.

Search efforts are being directed into that area, Powers said, and it’s likely that some boats may be offshore all night.

“We’re going to ramp up our search in the area where that bag was found,” Powers said. He asked for interested volunteers with a boat, capable of working 30-60 miles off shore, to help with search efforts Tuesday morning.

“We’re going to find these guys,” Powers said. “We finally started zeroing in a little bit today. We’re going to find them. Absolutely, it’s a rescue mission.”

Powers added that 37 boats and around 138 people were out searching, including volunteers and firefighters. A search by air involved six aircraft, he said.

The nonprofit Jacksonville Firefighter Charities has set up an online fundraiser for the search effort and to help the firefighters’ families.

Multiple local, state and federal agencies joined the search effort, including the U.S. Navy.

Earlier, Jacksonville Fire and Rescue had sent 50 firefighters out on 11 boats. Powers told local station WJXT that other fire departments across that area have been stepping up. “That’s just a unique bond that only firefighters share, and it’s shared throughout the country. You hear the cliché that it’s a second family, but it really is a second family,” he said.

On Sunday, the Coast Guard said the search had covered more than 20,000 square miles so far, extending north of Jacksonville and 80 miles off shore.

Also Sunday, the Coast Guard investigated a debris field that was spotted about 50 miles off the coast of St. Augustine. The agency later said on Twitter that it was a false alarm.

“No boats found and floating items turned out to be other debris not related to the boaters,” the Coast Guard said. “Crews are expanding search patterns in the area.”

The search for Walker is on the minds of firefighters in Virginia.

Fairfax County Fire and Rescue said in a statement Monday afternoon that the department is in contact with Walker’s family and Jacksonville Fire and Rescue.

“We remain optimistic that they will be found,” the department said. “We are working closely with authorities in Florida to provide assistance and coordinate any resource needs. Please keep these firefighters, their families and friends in your thoughts and prayers.”

Fairfax County Professional Firefighters & Paramedics President Ron Kuley said that his organization is cautiously optimistic. “It gets a little emotional thinking about this. It’s a very difficult situation, but we’re hoping for a positive outcome,” he said.

Kuley thanked all the people who are searching for the men, saying they have been doing an “extraordinary” job.

“Our brothers out there are alive and they’re going to be found,” Kuley said. “We just need a lot of positive energy and prayers.”

WTOP’s Abigail Constantino and Teta Alim contributed to this report.

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Loudoun South advances at Little League World Series; Search for missing Fairfax firefighter continues

Loudoun South, the 2019 Southeast Region Little League champions from South Riding, have kicked off a strong streak during the first weekend of the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. Loudoun had a 3-0 victory Friday, and won 11-0 on Sunday. The team’s next matchup will be Wednesday night at 7:30 p.m. (Loudoun Times-Mirror)

The search for a missing Fairfax firefighter has extended for nearly three days and over 20,000 square miles. The search began for Justin Walker, Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department member, and Brian McCluney, a member of the Jacksonville, Florida fire department, on Friday night at Port Canaveral, Florida, when both families reported no contact. (WTOP)

The heat index in the DMV will reach over 100 degrees today with the possibility of late afternoon storms. The heat index of 104 for Monday is in the extreme caution zone and everyone is being warned to stay hydrated, limit time outdoors and to not leave pets and/or children in the car unattended. Expect the heat to stick around for the remainder of the workweek. (WUSA9)

Cheesetique is set to open a new location in Shirlington. The local cheese and wine shop is looking to open at 4024 Campbell Avenue, in the former Luna Grill and Diner space. The new location is just down the road from its current location in Shirlington and will offer more space for guests and an enhanced retail cheese and wine shop area. (ARL Now)

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Search for missing Fairfax firefighter covers 20,000 square miles

Westlake Legal Group firefighters-picture-e1566211617481 Search for missing Fairfax firefighter covers 20,000 square miles virginia news nick iannelli National News missing persons Local News Latest News Justin Walker Jacksonville Florida Fairfax County, VA News Fairfax County Fire & Rescue boating
The search goes on for missing firefighters Justin Walker, right, and Brian McCluney, left, from Jacksonville, Florida. Walker is from Virginia’s Fairfax County. (Courtesy Jacksonville Firefighter Charities)

The search for a Fairfax County, Virginia, firefighter off the coast of Florida stretched into a third full day Monday after a widespread effort by air and sea came up empty over the weekend.

Justin Walker, a master technician for the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department, was last seen going on a fishing trip with his friend Brian McCluney, a member of the Jacksonville, Florida, fire department.

The pair launched early Friday on McCluney’s 24-foot center console boat off a ramp in Port Canaveral.

By late Friday night, family members contacted the U.S. Coast Guard and said they did not return as planned and could not be reached by phone.

Multiple local, state and federal agencies joined the search effort, including the U.S. Navy.

The Jacksonville fire department sent 50 firefighters out on 11 boats. Jacksonville Fire Chief Keith Powers told local station WJXT that other fire departments across that area have been stepping up.

“They’re all offering their services, helping out with the search,” Powers said. “That’s just a unique bond that only firefighters share, and it’s shared throughout the country. You hear the cliché that it’s a second family, but it really is a second family.”

According to the Coast Guard, the search has covered more than 20,000 square miles so far, extending north of Jacksonville and 80 miles off shore.

On Sunday, the Coast Guard investigated a debris field that was spotted about 50 miles off the coast of St. Augustine. The agency later said on Twitter that it was a false alarm.

“No boats found and floating items turned out to be other debris not related to the boaters,” the Coast Guard said. “Crews are expanding search patterns in the area.”

The nonprofit Jacksonville Firefighter Charities has set up an online fundraiser for the search effort and to help the firefighters’ families.

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Fairfax firefighter missing off Florida coast

Westlake Legal Group img-0039-2_original Fairfax firefighter missing off Florida coast virginia news National News missing persons Local News Justin Walker Florida firefighters Fairfax County, VA News coast guard boating
The boaters, Brian McCluney and Justin Walker, departed the 300 Christopher Columbus boat ramp Friday in a 24-foot center console on Friday evening. (Courtesy U.S. Coast Guard)

A Fairfax, Virginia, firefighter is missing after a fishing trip off the Florida coast.

Justin Walker with the Fairfax, Virginia fire and rescue department, together with Brian McCluney of the Jacksonville, Florida fire department, launched a 24-foot center console boat from a ramp at Port Canaveral on Friday morning.

Family members alerted the U.S. Coast Guard when the boaters did not return as expected on Friday evening.

They were headed toward fishing reef 8A, the Coast Guard said in a statement Saturday morning.

Multiple agencies, including the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office and U.S. Navy, are conducting a search for the two missing firefighters.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Coast Guard’s Jacksonville command center at 904-714-7558.

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