Centreville: ‘I’m Doing OK; No One’s Hurt’

Centreville: ‘I’m Doing OK; No One’s Hurt’

Two-alarm, Centreville house fire does $82,810 damage.

A slew of emergency vehicles, including this fire engine from West Centreville’s Station 38, responded to the scene.

A slew of emergency vehicles, including this fire engine from West Centreville’s Station 38, responded to the scene. Photo by Bonnie Hobbs.


Fire engines from Station 21 in Fair Oaks line an adjoining street.


Emergency vehicles line Sacred Lane in Centreville’s Gate Post Estates.


Both fire engines and the mobile canteen play vital roles during fires.


Firefighters, with some of their gear on the ground, stand outside the house after the blaze is out.

A two-alarm house fire in Centreville last week displaced a family of three and caused nearly $83,000 damage, according to fire officials. Meanwhile, temperatures in the mid- to upper 80s made it difficult for the firefighters battling the blaze and sent one of them to the hospital.

The fire broke out shortly before 5:40 p.m., on Thursday, May 26, in the 15000 block of Sacred Lane in the Gate Post Estates community. The home’s residents were gone at the time.

“They came home from dinner, saw their house engulfed in smoke and called the fire department,” said neighbor Howard Borst, who lives across the street. “I came home from work about 6 p.m. and the neighborhood was blocked off. There were 15 fire trucks, and nobody else was allowed in or out. Residents had to park on Route 29 or at Centreville Presbyterian Church [and walk to their homes].”

Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department Battalion Chief Patrick Kelly said 15 units and 80 personnel responded from Centreville Fire Stations 17 and 38, plus Station 21 in Fair Oaks and Station 15 in Chantilly. A unit from Prince William County provided mutual aid.

“Because of the heat, we called for a second alarm and more people,” said Kelly. “Since the firefighters were doing strenuous work in high heat and humidity, we wanted to be able to rotate them.”

Indeed, said Borst, “At one time, they were doing ‘triage’ on a lawn for the firefighters and giving them icepacks. And one firefighter was transported.” According to the Fire Department, that person was taken by ambulance to Inova Fairfax Hospital for a “heat-related medical emergency.”

The home’s smoke alarms had gone off, and the first units on the scene saw “smoke everywhere,” said Kelly. “Station 17 was the first to arrive because [the geographically closer] Station 38 was busy on another call. A vehicle had turned over on Route 29.”

Firefighters had the flames in the two-story, single-family home under control within a half hour. But they stayed on the scene for several hours afterward to make sure there were no flare-ups.

When Borst was trying to make his way home and saw the streets blocked off, he said, “I realized that, obviously, there was a fire or major emergency. So I called my wife to make sure she was OK and find out what happened.”

Ray Broussard, retired from the military, owns the house where the fire was. He lives there with his daughter, Andi Smith, who works in administration in one of Westfield High’s subschools, and her younger daughter, 22, who just graduated from Longwood University. Smith’s older daughter lives in Reston and had gone to dinner with them.

“They’re a wonderful family,” said Borst. “They have an absolutely impeccable home and yard, and the kids are really nice.” Referring to the fire, he said, “It’s a terrible situation.”

Paul Grinups, another neighbor across the street, has lived on that block for 28 years. “I came outside to get something from my car and saw Ray moving his car,” he said. “Smoke was coming out of the roof of his house and the upstairs windows were broken. Fire engines were coming up the street and, before I knew it, there was a lot of chaos.”

“Kudos to the Fire Department,” continued Grinups. “They came in and went right to work. Everybody knew their job and they were very well-organized.”

Agreeing, his wife Charlene added, “Wow, the firefighters were very impressive. These guys did an amazing job.”

Although the exact cause of the fire is still under investigation, fire officials say it originated within the ceiling space above the garage on the right side of the house. After talking with fire investigators on the scene, Smith said it was apparently electrical in nature. “The fire started in some wiring between the bedroom floor joist and the garage,” she said.

Besides the smoke and water damage the house sustained, Smith said one bedroom was also damaged by the fire. She and her family have lived there since 2000, but she said they’d be staying in a hotel, at least temporarily, while their home is being repaired.

Before leaving with her family around 9 p.m., she said, “Tonight I’ll probably have a little breakdown; but right now, I’m doing OK — no one’s hurt.”