Heat Lamp, Improperly Installed Wood Stove Blamed in House Fires

Two house fires occurring within eight hours of each other resulted in a half million dollars in damages and prompted safety reminders from fire-rescue administrators.

The first fire occurred just after 5:30 p.m., Tuesday. The dispatch center received a 911 call from the occupant reporting a structure fire on Kidwell Road near Hillsboro. The homeowner arrived home to find smoke coming from the roof and fire visible through the windows. Crews from Loudoun Heights, Purcellville, Round Hill, Lovettsville, Hamilton, and Frederick County, MD, were dispatched to the scene.

Crews initially tried to fight the fire inside the home, but finding that areas of the first floor had burned through and there was active fire in the basement, they retreated to an exterior attack, extinguishing the flames through windows and doorways. Once the fire was under control and visibility improved, crews re-entered the structure to check for extension and extinguish any remaining fire.

The Loudoun County Fire Marshal’s Office determined the fire was 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. Three horses housed in a stable on the property were uninjured and are being relocated. There no injuries were reported.

The second fire occurred just after 12:25 a.m., March 6. Dispatchers received a 911 call reporting  smoke in a townhome on Millard Drive in Sterling. The caller had tried to shut down a wood burning fireplace but the home and the home next door both filled with smoke. Fire and rescue units from Cascades, Kincora, Sterling, Lansdowne, and Fairfax County were dispatched to the scene.

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.

Investigators fund that the fire resulted 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 residents to stay diligent about fire safety during the closing months of winter. Qualified professionals should be called to install stoves, chimney connectors, and chimneys. The inside of wood stoves should be cleaned 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 go to www.loudoun.gov/firemarshal.

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