Fire officials said an unopened smoke alarm is responsible for saving a Reston couple’s lives after an early morning fire destroyed their home. The two-alarm fire roared through the one-story home at 11917 Richland Lane at around 3:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 16 sending the two adult homeowners to the hospital, Fairfax County fire officials said.
Ironically, the couple had recently purchased a smoke alarm, but had not yet installed it on their ceiling, said Daniel L. Schmidt, a fire spokesman. “Fortunately, it came with a battery already installed,” Schmidt said. “They were lucky because even though it was still packed away in the box, the smoke still it set the alarm off and that is what woke them up. That is how prevalent the smoke was in the house. It was a fairly close call.”
Investigators are still looking into the cause of the fire which caused an estimated $450,000 in damage. Schmidt added that because of increased candle activity, fireplace use and holiday lighting, home fires are much more common in the fall and winter months.
The property damage was “more expensive than normal” because the couple had an “extensive collection of antique furniture and collectibles,” Schmidt said. “Unfortunately, the damages were several hundred thousand more than would be expected in a fire like this one,” Schmidt said.
Authorities transported the couple to Inova Fair Oaks Hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation. Schmidt said the injuries were not life threatening.
Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department units responded to the home along the Reston-Herndon border and found “heavy fire visible through the roof of the structure,” according to a fire department spokesperson. It took 50 firefighters about 45 minutes before bringing the blaze fire under control, officials said.
Anyone who would like to help the displaced homeowners are invited to call the American Red Cross’ Herndon office at 703-964-0004.