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Grill Causes Townhouse Fire in Fair Oaks

— Fire officials say a fire Monday night at a Fair Oaks townhouse was accidental, but damage is estimated at more than $10,000. They attribute the cause to an unattended grill on the deck.

Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department units responded to the single-family townhouse at 12582 Garland Tree Court on July 30, around 10:30 p.m. First-arriving firefighters encountered smoke and fire coming from the second-floor deck in the rear of the two-story, middle townhouse.

The flames were rapidly spreading upward into the eaves and attic. But firefighters were able to attack the fire from the outside and extinguish the blaze. According to the Fire Department, the home’s interior suffered minor damage from the fire. No one was injured; however, four adults and two children were displaced.

As a result of this incident, the Fire Department offers the following Grill Safety Tips to residents:

  • Grills should be placed at least 15 feet from any home, building or combustibles to ensure adequate air circulation.

  • Charcoal must be kept dry. Wet charcoal can spontaneously ignite. Spare propane bottles should be stored outside away from the home. A backyard shed is a good place.

  • Keep children and pets away from grills; they continue giving off heat long after cooking has stopped.

  • Never place hot ashes in paper or plastic bags or containers. Only use metal containers for hot ashes.

  • Use Underwriters Laboratories (UL) approved electrical starters in place of lighter fluid.

  • Never use a grill on apartment or condominium balconies. This practice is one of the biggest dangers with grills. It’s both unsafe and against the law.