Faulty Electric Line Blamed in House Fire

The Loudoun County Fire Marshal’s Office determined that Saturday’s house fire in Sterling that resulted in $875,000 in damages and displaced a family of four was accidental.

At 5:18 p.m. July 18, a neighbor called 911 to report a fire on Spring Farm Circle in Chantilly. Fire and rescue units from Dulles South, Kirkpatrick Farms, Brambleton, Fairfax County, and Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority responded. They arrived to find heavy smoke and fire coming from the garage of a large, single family home. The fire was spreading quickly from the garage up into the attic space. The residents of the home had been alerted to the fire by a neighbor and were located safely outside.

The Fire Marshal’s Office determined the fire was caused by the failure of a service line to the home, which ignited mulch near the home. The fire quickly spread to the garage and attic. Damages to the home and one neighboring residence were estimated at $875,000. Two adults and two children were displaced by the fire.  

Each year during spring and summer, fire departments across the Country respond to structure fires involving mulch. Fires in mulch that is too close to the home can quickly grow into a devastating fire, causing major damage to buildings, homes, and other structures. Because these fires begin outside, , they often go undetected until they have grown significantly. 

To reduce the chance of having a mulch-related fire at your residence, the Fire Marshal’s Office offers these recommendations:

• Keep landscaped mulch beds moist.

• Provide a minimum 18-inch clearance between landscaped mulch beds and combustible building materials.

• Use only electrical devices and cords listed for outdoor use,and follow the manufacturer’s specifications.

• Provide proper clearance for any electrical devices such as decorative lights by following the manufacturer’s instructions and use only approved yard light bulbs with the appropriate size and wattage.

• Consider replacing landscaping mulch with decorative stone.

• Use noncombustible material such as rock or pea gravel around the gas meter and next to the combustible portions of the structure.

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