Smoking Materials Cause Herndon Townhouse Fire

Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department

News Release 12-40
Date:  June 11, 2012 


Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department units responded to a townhouse fire, at approximately 11:55 p.m., Friday, June 8, 2012, in the Herndon area of Fairfax County. The single- family home is located at 2542 Peter Jefferson Lane, in the McNair Farms West subdivision.

Firefighters reported heavy smoke and fire coming from the rear and extending up the eaves to the roof area of the three-story end unit townhouse upon arrival. The Incident Commander struck a second alarm bringing approximately 60 firefighters to the incident scene. Firefighters conducted an interior and exterior fire attack and brought the fire under control in approximately 15 minutes. Despite knocking the fire down quickly, fire had already spread to the roof and attic of the adjacent townhouse causing major damage to the roof, attic, and top floor. All the occupants escaped prior to firefighters arriving on scene. Both townhouses are uninhabitable. Two adults and two children from each of the units have been displaced. Red Cross is assisting both families. There were no injuries.

The home is a total loss. Damage to the townhouse at 2540 Peter Jefferson Lane is estimated at $40,000.

According fire investigators, the fire was accidental. Improperly discarded smoking materials near the rear of the home caused the fire.

Discarded Smoking Materials Safety Tips

  • Completely douse butts and ashes with water before throwing them away as they can smolder and cause a fire.
  • Never smoke in bed.
  • Provide large, deep ashtrays with a center support for smokers. Check furniture for any dropped ashes before going to bed. Empty ashes into a fireproof container with water and sand.
  • Keep smoking materials away from anything that can burn (i.e., mattresses, bedding, upholstered furniture, draperies, etc.).
  • Never smoke in a home where oxygen is being used.
  • If you smoke, choose fire-safe cigarettes. They are less likely to cause fires. 
  • To prevent a deadly cigarette fire, you must be alert. You won’t be if you are sleepy, have been drinking, or have taken medicine or other drugs.
  • Keep matches and lighters up high, out of children's sight and reach.

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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