Release, Loudoun County:
At 3:53am, Monday, May 19, Loudoun County Fire, Rescue and Emergency Management received a 9-1-1 call for a structure fire in the 200 Block of St. John Square, in Sterling Park. Fire and rescue personnel from Sterling, Cascades, Kincora, Ashburn, Moorefield, Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, and Fairfax County responded to the incident.
First arriving units discovered fire in the backyard of one of the townhouses that was spreading up the exterior of the townhouse and into the attic and roof of that unit and adjacent units. All occupants were safely out of the home.
Fire and rescue personnel worked to quickly contain the fire. Due to significant fire and smoke damage to two of the townhouses and smoke damage to a third and fourth townhouse, 15 people have been displaced. The American Red Cross was called to assist the families. There were no injuries reported.
The Loudoun County Fire Marshal’s Office reports that the accidental fire was a result of improperly extinguishing the contents of an outdoor fire pit. Damages are estimated at $450,000.
Loudoun County’s Department of Fire, Rescue and Emergency Management reminds residents to follow these simple safety precautions when using outdoor burning appliances such as Portable Fireplaces, Fire Pits, Fire Bowls, and Chimeneas:
• It is strongly recommended that the appliance is placed at least 15 feet away from any home or residence, taking care to be aware of nearby combustible materials, such as decks, exterior walls and plants or other outside decorative material so they do not ignite due to radiant heat.
• It is encouraged that you place the appliance on a level, non-combustible surface, such as stone, brick, or concrete. If you re unable to place it on a non-combustible surface and must place it in the grass or on any other combustible surface, place a fire resistant pad underneath the appliance and monitor it closely.
• By law, an adult who has a means of extinguishment readily available must attend any fire.
• The appliance is to be used within the manufacture’s specifications. This includes the use of the sturdy screen to contain sparking or flying embers.
• It is best to use seasoned hardwood as fuel for the fire. Avoid using soft wood such as pine or cedar that likely generate more smoke, pop and throw sparks.
• Always let ashes cool before putting them into a closed metal container. The metal container should be kept outside, a safe distance away from your home or any other structures.
• Teach kids how to be responsible when around these types of appliances but always ensure an adult is present during their use.
• Prior to lighting the fire, evaluate wind conditions to see if it is safe and where the smoke will be blowing. Exercise the same precautions as you would with an open fire.
• Burning that is offensive or objectionable because of smoke or odor emissions or when atmospheric conditions or local circumstances make such fires hazardous shall be prohibited and the fire extinguished.
For more information on fire safety and prevention programs, contact the Loudoun County Fire Marshal’s Office at 703-737-8600 or visit