Improper Disposal Of Fireplace Ashes Cause Herndon House Fire

On Thursday, January 31, at approximately 6:23 a.m., units were dispatched for a reported house fire in the 12100 block of Westwood Hills Drive in the Herndon area of Fairfax County.

Units arrived on scene of a two-story, single family home to find heavy fire showing from the front. Crews quickly extinguished the fire. Three occupants were transported to an area hospital for evaluation. There were no reported firefighter injuries.

Three occupants were home when the fire occurred. All self-evacuated prior to the arrival of the fire department. There were working smoke alarms in the home which sounded after the occupants discovered the fire.

Fire Investigators determined that the fire was accidental in nature and started in the garage. The cause of this fire was the improper disposal of fireplace ashes in a trash bag.

Two adults and three juveniles were displaced. Red Cross assistance was offered and accepted. Damages as a result of the fire were approximately $347,162. The damage total includes exposure damage ($43,000) to two vehicles and a boat that were located near the house.

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.
  • 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 wood stove.
  • Ashes can stay hot for several days. Follow the above steps even when you wait several days to remove the ashes from the fireplace.