Two fires in Loudoun County within eight hours of each other fortunately resulted in no injuries, but displaced three residents, several animals and did over a half million dollars in damages. Fire Officials issue important safety reminders as we usher out the winter season.
Just after 5:30 p.m., Tuesday, March 5th, 2019, the Loudoun County Emergency Communications Center (ECC) received a 9-1-1 call from the occupant reporting a structure fire at 36000 block of Kidwell Road in Purcellville. The homeowner called 9-1-1 when they arrived at the residence and found smoke coming from the roof and saw fire through the windows. Fire and Rescue units from Loudoun Heights, Purcellville, Round Hill, Lovettsville, Hamilton, and Frederick County, MD were dispatched to the scene along with numerous command officers.
Fire crews arrived on scene and reported smoke coming from the roof with fire visible through the first floor windows of a two-story, single family home. Based upon the amount of smoke and fire inside the structure, command requested additional units from Loudoun and Frederick County, MD. Once firefighters confirmed all occupants were safely out of the structure, firefighters brought hoselines inside to attack the fire. Quickly upon entering the structure, firefighters encountered sections of the first floor that had already burned through showing significant fire in the basement. For the safety of all crews operating on the scene, firefighters pulled out of the structure and transitioned to an exterior fire attack extinguishing the flames through windows and doorways. Once the fire was under control and visibility improved, crews safely re-entered the structure to check for extension and extinguish any remaining fire.
The Loudoun County Fire Marshal’s Office determined the fire to be accidental in nature, caused when a heat lamp used to warm chicks ignited bedding materials. Smoke alarms were present and sounding when the homeowner discovered the fire. Damages are estimated to be $420,000. The single occupant of the home will be displaced for an extended period of time. Three horses housed in a stable located on the property were uninjured and are being relocated. There were no injuries to fire and rescue personnel or civilians.
Also, just after 12:25 a.m., Wednesday, March 6th, 2019, the ECC received a 9-1-1 call for smoke in a townhome on Millard Drive in Sterling. The resident advised that they had tried to shut down their wood burning fireplace and now their home and the home next door were both filled with smoke. Fire and rescue units from Cascades, Kincora, Sterling, Lansdowne, and Fairfax County were dispatched to the incident along with numerous command officers.
The first unit arrived to find a three-story, middle unit townhouse with smoke coming from the front of the townhome. Once firefighters determined that this was a working fire with many exposures, additional units from Leesburg and Fairfax County were dispatched to the scene. Crews discovered fire in the floor space next to a woodstove that had also spread into the chimney space. Firefighters worked to uncover and extinguish the fire with the scene deemed under control within 25 minutes. Firefighters remained on the scene performing salvage and overhaul measures in the building of origin and checking on neighboring homes and residents.
The Loudoun County Fire Marshal’s Office investigation ruled the fire accidental in nature, resulting from the improper installation of the wood stove inside the townhouse. Two adults were displaced and will be staying locally. Smoke alarms were present and functioning on all floors but homeowners exited prior to activation. Damages resulting from the fire are estimated at $150,000.
The Loudoun County Fire Marshal’s Office reminds you to stay diligent about fire safety as we close out the winter months. Please have a qualified professional install stoves, chimney connectors, and chimneys. Clean the inside of your stove periodically using a wire brush. Allow all ashes to cool before disposing of them in a covered metal container, kept at least 10 feet away from any structure or residence. Portable space heaters, heat lamps, fireplaces and stoves all need to be kept a safe distance away from anything that can burn. It is recommended to have at least a three foot safe space around heating devices to ensure they are operating safely. For more fire safety tips, please visit www.loudoun.gov/firemarshal.