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Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department

News Release 10-113
Date: December 28, 2010

Fireplace Ashes Cause Christmas House Fire

Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department units responded to a house fire Saturday, December 25, 2010 at approximately 9:45 a.m. in the Fairview area of Fairfax County. The single family home is located at 11506 Chapel Road in Chapel View Estates.

Firefighters saw heavy smoke and fire visible from the garage, eaves, and roof of the ranch-style home upon arrival. The occupants were inside the home when the fire broke out and escaped unharmed when smoke alarms sounded early warning. As the fire was quickly advancing into the home, firefighters fought the fire from both the interior and exterior of the home. Firefighters used a Water Tanker Task Force consisting of three tankers, providing them an adequate water supply to fight the fire. Because homes in the area do not have close-in water hydrants, the Incident Commander used a tanker shuttle to bring additional water resources to the fire scene to extinquish the fire. It took firefighters about 45 minutes to bring the fire under control. The two-car garage was destroyed as was most of the roof and attic, and there was extensive smoke and water damage to the basement. Two vehicles and a motorcycle parked in the garage were also destroyed.

All four occupants, the homeowners and two visitors from Europe have been displaced. Additionally, firefighters were able to find and retrieve the passports of the overseas visitors. Red Cross support for the family was declined. The family pet also escaped unharmed. There were no injuries.

Damage is estimated at $100,000.

According to fire investigators, the fire was accidental. Improperly discarded fireplace ashes and debris placed in the garage caused the fire.

Fireplace Ashes Safety Tips

  • Do not discard your ashes into any combustible container such as a paper or plastic bag, a cardboard box, or a plastic trash can.

  • Do not place ash containers on decks, porches, or in garages.

  • Put ashes into a non-combustible metal container with a lid.

  • Pour water into the container to make sure the ashes are cool.

  • Keep your can OUTSIDE the home, away from your fireplace or stove and anything combustible.

  • Teach all family members to be safe with ashes from your fireplace or stove.

  • For more information, call Daniel L. Schmidt or Captain I Randal Bittinger,
    Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department, 703-246-3801 and TTY: 711.
    Duty PIO (Weekends/After-hours): 703-877-3702
    Fairfax County is committed to nondiscrimination on the basis of disability in all county programs,
    services and activities. Reasonable accommodations will be provided upon request.
    4100 Chain Bridge Road
    Fairfax, VA 22030


    Last Modified: Monday, August 29, 2011

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