Just after 8:04 p.m., Monday, March 4, 2019, the Loudoun County Emergency Communications Center (ECC) received a 911 call from the occupant reporting a structure fire at 46000 Block of Ashmere Square in Sterling. The caller reported fire in his townhouse. Fire and Rescue units from Cascades, Park, Kincora, Ashburn, and Lansdowne were dispatched to the incident along with numerous command officers. The first units arrived on the scene and reported fire issuing from the third floor window in the rear of a middle unit, three story townhouse and large amounts smoke issuing from the front and rear of the structure on multiple levels.
Based upon the amount of fire and smoke issuing from the structure, command requested additional units be dispatched to the scene, bringing additional units from Loudoun and Fairfax County. Crews performed an immediate size-up of the situation and began deploying hoselines to initiate an interior attack on the fire. Battalion Chief 601 was the first command officer to arrive on the scene and assumed command. Command ensured a primary search for any occupants was completed; however, the single occupant who was home at the time of the fire and alerted by working smoke alarms was quickly identified in a safe area on the exterior of the home.
Personnel continued to extinguish the fire from the interior which had extended into the attic area while also conducting salvage and overhaul operations. Crews were able to rapidly extinguish the fire, containing the fire to the original townhouse without extending into the adjoining homes. The Loudoun County Fire Marshal’s Office has determined the cause of the fire to be accidental in nature due to the improper disposal of smoking material into a trash can. Damages are estimated at $300,000. The single occupant of the home was displaced and there were no injuries to the occupant or any first responders.
Per the National Fire Protection Association, smoking materials (i.e., cigarettes, cigars, pipes, etc.) are the leading cause of fire deaths in the United States. You can avoid becoming a statistic by following some simple safety measures:
- If you smoke, smoke outside.
- Put your cigarette out in a metal or ceramic container filled with sand or use deep, wide ashtrays on a sturdy table.
- Soak cigarette butts and ashes in water to make sure they are really out before you put them in the trash.
- Never smoke in a home where oxygen is being used.
- Be alert! Don’t smoke if you’re sleepy, have been drinking, or have taken medicine or drugs that cause drowsiness.
- Keep matches and lighters up high, out of children's sight and reach.
For more information on fire and life safety, visit loudoun.gov/firemarshal or call Lisa Braun, Public Education Manager at 571-258-3222.