Fairfax County Firefighters were able to quickly extinguish what was described as “a small fire” in the kitchen of Huntington Community Center on Wednesday, Jan. 18. But not before the fire caused an estimated $93,750 in damage.
Units from the Penn Daw Fire Station 11 were first dispatched to the 5700 block of Liberty Drive for a fire alarm report around 5:30 p.m.
While they were on their way, a community center employee called 9-1-1 reporting seeing smoke and flames coming from the kitchen. That drew reinforcement firefighters from Fairfax County and the City of Alexandria to the scene.
All employees and occupants were able to exit the building safely, and there were no reports of injuries to either civilians or firefighters.
The fire was ruled an accident: It started when an employee turned on the community center’s gas stove while there was a plastic tray resting on it, Fairfax County Fire & Rescue said.
Fairfax County Fire & Rescue spokesperson Bill Delaney said the nearly $100,000 damage assessment is just an estimate by fire investigators. Insurance adjusters could come in and either raise or lower the amount, depending on what they find.
The damage estimate “involves physical elements, as well as the contents of the building,” Delaney said, when asked if the total seemed high for what was described as a “small fire.”
“That could include cabinets, tiles, light fixtures — the whole gamut,” Delaney said, “not just the stove. They might have to replace a whole system.”
Delaney added perceptions of what constitutes a “small” or “big” fire can be relative; what may seem small to firefighters and their effort to douse it could seem larger to someone else.