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Electrical Fire Engulfs Clifton Townhouse

A townhouse fire, early last Wednesday, July 10, caused an estimated $25,000 damage to a townhouse near New Braddock Road in Clifton. According to fire officials, the blaze was accidental, caused by an electrical outlet in the basement laundry room.

Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department units responded around 6:30 a.m., to the single-family home at 13677 Wildflower Lane. First-arriving firefighters encountered heavy smoke coming from the front basement windows of the two-story, middle-unit townhouse.

They conducted an interior fire attack, quickly bringing the flames under control. Firefighters were also able to keep the fire from spreading to adjacent units.

The townhouse sustained extensive damage to the basement, as well as some smoke damage to the upper floors. However, a sounding smoke alarm provided early warning to the occupants, who all escaping unharmed. Two adults and two children were displaced, but no one was injured. In light of this incident, fire officials provide the following electrical-safety tips to residents:

  • Replace or repair loose or frayed cords on all electrical devices, avoid overloading outlets, and plug only one high-wattage appliance into each receptacle outlet at a time. If the power goes out often or the lights in the home flicker, produce an odor, or make noise, have an electrician come and inspect the wiring.

  • The electrical outlet in the bathroom should have a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI). It’s a tool protecting people from a dangerous shock when water and electricity come together. An electrician can install a GFCI. And all electrical outlets and switches should be covered by face plates. When possible, avoid the use of “cube taps” and other devices allowing the connection of multiple appliances into a single receptacle.

  • Inspect electrical cords to make sure they’re in good condition. Consider having additional circuits or outlets added by a qualified electrician so extension cords aren’t needed. Don’t tie or knot electrical cords and don’t place furniture on them. Follow the manufacturer’s instruction for plugging an appliance into a receptacle outlet.