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Fire and Rescue

Posted on: April 18, 2023

Cause Determined in Ashburn House Fire that Injured One Firefighter

NEWS ALERTS 365 230 px

The Loudoun County Fire and Rescue Fire Marshal’s Office (LCFR-FMO) determined that Monday’s house fire on Globe Mills Court in Ashburn was accidental, caused by improperly discarded smoking materials.

 At 4:13 AM on Monday, April 17, 2023, Loudoun County Fire and Rescue units from Ashburn, Lansdowne, Moorefield, Kincora, and Leesburg were dispatched for a house fire involving the deck in the 20700 block of Globe Mills Court. 

First arriving units reported heavy fire involving the rear of a two-story home. Firefighters immediately worked to extinguish the fire in the rear and were able to limit damage to the home by gaining control of the fire quickly. 

The LCFR-FMO investigators determined the fire was accidental, caused by improperly discarded smoking materials. Damages are estimated at $350,000, $300,000 for the structure and $50,000 for the contents. Two adult occupants have been displaced and are receiving assistance from the Red Cross. One firefighter was transported to the hospital for evaluation of a minor injury.

 According to the National Fire Protection Association, one in four home fire deaths occur in home fires started by smoking materials. Fires caused by improperly discarded smoking materials often occur when cigarettes are disposed of in potted plants or plant beds outside the home. Although many people think that this is a safe practice, not all dirt is the same. Today’s potting soils contain very little actual soil but instead has large volumes of combustible and flammable materials such as peat moss, shredded wood, bark, Styrofoam, and vermiculite. These ingredients ignite easily under dry conditions and once ignited, the fertilizers in the mix will accelerate the flames. These types of fires can often smolder for hours and when enough oxygen is available, the materials will break out into flames. If the planter or bed is located near other combustible items like a deck, side of the house or fence, those items may become involved resulting in a serious fire. These fires are preventable by following a few simple tips: 

  • If you smoke, do so outside. 
  • Residents should ensure they place discarded smoking materials in approved containers to limit the possibility of accidental fires. Never use plastic containers or anything that holds potting soil and be sure to clean out cigarette butt containers often. 
  • Use a deep, sturdy ashtray and be sure it is placed on a surface where it will not tip over. 
  • Place containers away from the house. Never place containers on front porches, decks, or just outside the door. 
  • Soak cigarette butts and ashes in water before throwing them away. Hot ashes can smolder for days. 
  • Test smoke alarms monthly and replace units as specified by the manufacturer’s instructions. 

For more information on home fire safety, to schedule a free home safety assessment, or obtain information regarding our LC-CFRS smoke alarm program, visit Loudoun.gov/smokealarms or call 703-737-8093.

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