Improperly Discarded Fire Place Ashes Causes Townhouse Fire

At approximately 6:25 p.m. on Saturday, January 28, units from Fairfax County Fire and Rescue and Arlington County Fire Department responded to a reported house fire in the 2000 block of Hopewood Drive in the Falls Church section of Fairfax County.

Units arrived on the scene of a three-level, middle unit townhome with no smoke or fire visible. Upon further investigation, firefighters found smoke and a small fire in the basement. The fire was quickly extinguished.

At the time of the fire, the home was occupied by two adults and four children. One of the adult occupants discovered the fire prior to any smoke alarm activation. All occupants had safely evacuated the home prior to fire department arrival. The smoke alarms were working and did activate.

Fire Investigators determined the fire to be accidental in nature. The fire originated in the basement next to the fireplace. Earlier in the day, the homeowners had a fire in the fireplace and used a cardboard box to discard the fireplace ashes. The improperly discarded fireplace ashes ignited nearby combustibles.

There were no reported firefighter or civilian injuries. A total of six occupants were displaced as a result of the fire and Red Cross assistance was offered and declined. The estimated damage is $5,000.

The Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department would like to remind all residents to be cautious and keep safety in mind when handling fire place ashes. Following a few simple safety tips can help keep you and your loved ones safe.

  • Do not discard your ashes into any combustible container such as a paper or plastic bag, a cardboard box, or a plastic trash can.
  • Do not place ash containers on decks, porches, or in garages.
  • Put ashes into a non-combustible metal container with a lid and place it away from the house to cool.
  • Pour water into the container to make sure the ashes are cool.
  • Keep your can OUTSIDE the home, away from your fireplace or stove and anything combustible.
  • Teach all family members to be safe with ashes from your fireplace or stove.

Photos Courtesy of Andrew Pang, DC Metro Fire Photographers