Unattended Charcoal Grill Causes Hybla Valley House Fire

On Saturday, June 24 at approximately 10:58 p.m., units from Fairfax County Fire and Rescue and the City of Alexandria Fire Department were dispatched for a reported house fire in the 3400 block of Beechcraft Drive in the Hybla Valley section of Fairfax County.

Units arrived on the scene of a one-story, single family home with heavy fire showing. Firefighters quickly went to work to contain and extinguish the advanced fire.

The house was not occupied at the time of the fire. A neighbor discovered the fire and called 9-1-1. There were no working smoke alarms inside the house.

Fire Investigators determined that the fire started on the exterior wooden deck. The cause of the fire was accidental in nature and was the result of an unattended charcoal grill that ignited the deck and spread to the house.

There were no civilian injuries reported. Two firefighters sustained minor injuries. Five occupants have been displaced as a result of the fire. Red Cross assistance was offered and accepted. Damages as a result of the fire are approximately $278,537.

Fairfax County Fire and Rescue would also like to remind all residents about grilling safely. Here are some safety tips for a happy and safe cookout season:

  • Never leave your grill unattended.
  • Use charcoal lighter fluid only before the fire is lit. If you try to make a fire bigger by adding more fluid, the heat from the coals may ignite the stream of fuel and burn back into the can, causing it to explode in your hands.
  • Never use gasoline to start a fire – it is much too dangerous to use on grills.
  • Try using a U.L. approved electrical starter in place of lighter fluid.
  • Never use a grill on apartment or condominium balconies. This practice is one of the biggest dangers with grills. It is unsafe and against the law.
  • Place grills away from structures so they will not tip over or ignite objects above them.
  • Keep a garden hose or a portable fire extinguisher handy in case the fire gets out of control.
  • Never bring a grill into the home. The carbon monoxide produced by burning charcoal can be dangerous, even deadly, in an enclosed space.
  • Keep children and pets away from fires and grills. It only takes a second for curiosity to cause a serious burn.
  • Though coals may appear to be cool, always soak them with water. Coals retain enough heat to reignite for days after the fire.
  • If your bag of charcoal gets wet, leave it in a well ventilated area away from the house. During the drying process spontaneous ignition can occur in confined areas.