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Fire Destroys Townhouse

A fire destroyed an end-unit townhouse and damaged the adjoining townhouse in Chadds Ford Cluster Saturday night, causing an estimated $1 million in damages.

The fire, which investigators determined to be accidental, was caused by an outdoor fireplace, called a chiminea, that was left unattended. The occupants of both townhouses were home when the fire started and escaped without harm.

“We were down in the den and I was on the phone and I just saw out of the corner of my eye what looked like fireworks,” said Joyce Barrett, who lives in the adjoining townhouse that was damaged during the fire. “I turned around and the fire was coming out of the deck [of the townhouse next door]. I screamed, ‘Maggie’s house is on fire!’”

The fire spread from the chiminea to the deck and then to the rest of the townhouse. “They thought they had put the fire out [in the fireplace], but apparently they didn’t put it out completely,” said Barrett’s husband, William Marjenhoff, who also witnessed the fire.

THE FAIRFAX COUNTY FIRE and Rescue Department responded to the fire at 8:30 p.m., but had to call in additional support because the fire had spread to all three floors of the end unit. About 60 fire and rescue personnel spent an hour to extinguish the fire. “The Fairfax County fire department was terrific,” said Marjenhoff.

No injuries were reported.

Barrett and Marjenhoff’s townhouse had received considerable fire and water damage, and their roof and bedroom window had to be knocked out by the fire department to combat the fire. Amidst all the destruction, Barrett pointed out that a nesting Canada goose in her backyard had sat through the whole incident even after patches of the ground just a couple of feet away were singed by the heat from the fire.

“She never got up,” Barrett said. “Now she’s like the neighborhood mascot after all this — this rebirth out of the devastation.”