Accidental McLean Chimney House Fire

Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department

News Release 11-83
Date:  November 7, 2011 

Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department units responded to a house fire, Saturday, November, 5, 2011, at approximately 11 p.m. in the McLean area of Fairfax County. The single-family home is located at 8315 Old Dominion Drive.

Firefighters encountered 20 foot flames coming from the chimney and billowing smoke coming from underneath the eaves of the two-story home upon arrival. Crews worked to find the seat of the fire and to cut off the fire as it spread along the roof and attic. The 20 foot vaulted ceiling challenged firefighters as access inside or out was extremely difficult. Firefighters brought the fire under control in approximately 30 minutes. Firefighters did extensive overhaul to ensure there were no pockets of fire inside the walls, chimney chase, or attic.

Firefighters were able to contain the fire primarily to the family room, minimizing overall fire damage.  Two adults and three children have been displaced. Red Cross support was not necessary. There were no injuries.

Damage is estimated at $50,000.

According fire investigators, the fire was accidental. The fire originated in the chimney chase of the zero clearance gas operating fireplace.

Fireplace Safety Tips

  • Ensure that your chimney is cleaned and inspected by a licensed professional once a year.
  • A spark arrestor across the top of a chimney will prevent sparks from igniting your roof.
  • Use the proper fuel (seasoned hardwood, pellets, and gas/propane) for your type of system. Never use gasoline, kerosene, or other flammable liquids to start a fire.
  • Fireplaces should have a sturdy screen across the front to prevent embers from flying or logs from rolling out.
  • When clearing ashes from the fireplace, be sure to put them into a metal container with a lid—never into a cardboard box or paper bag.
  • Follow manufacturer’s instructions carefully.  Many “non-masonry” fireplace/chimney units have limitations on the amount of heat they can safely withstand.

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.
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Fairfax, VA 22030

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