Fire Risks In Your Community

Each year Loudoun County public safety personnel respond to thousands of fire-related emergencies. Fire causes significant damage and can have a devastating effect not only on the homeowner but on the entire community. Though fires may be accidental, most of them are preventable. The Loudoun County Fire Marshal's Office is dedicated to investigating accidental fires in order to determine common fire causes in our community. By understanding the cause of these fires, first responders can provide a better service not only by responding to fire related emergencies but by preventing them before they start!

Click on the newsletter image at right to learn more about some of the common fire causes in Loudoun County and the cost of damages associated with each cause. Take a moment to determine what you can do to prevent these fires in your home or business by visiting our fire prevention page. Contact the Fire Marshal's Office with any questions regarding this information at 703-737-8600.

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Accidental Fire newletter April 2018
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Descriptions of Fire Causes 

  • Appliance Malfunction - Fires that originated in an appliance. The specific cause varies but could include a general malfunction, lack of maintenance, or misuse.
  • Cooking - Fires that originate in the kitchen or outdoors on a grill. The most common causes include unattended cooking, grease fires, and combustibles to close to a heat source.
  • Improper disposal of smoking materials - Fires that are caused by the disposal of hot cigarette butts or ashes in or near combustible materials.
  • Mechanical issues - Fires that are directly related to vehicles. The specific cause may not have been determined but could include electrical issues, overheating, part failure, engine problems, etc.
  • Electrical - Fires that are caused by the heat generated from an electrical current coming into contact with a combustible material or over heating from the improper use/maintenance of an electrical appliance.
  • Improper disposal of hot materials - Fires started by hot ashes from a fireplace/fire pit, spent fireworks, or other hot materials that were not properly extinguished and/or were not placed in an appropriate container.
  • Improper maintenance - Fires caused by the lack of routine maintenance of an appliance. This may include the lack of general cleaning or not completing necessary repairs for an appliance to operate within safety guidelines. Common issues are failure to regularly clean a chimney or kitchen exhaust fan.
  • Oil rags (Spontaneous Combustion) -Fires that were a result of oil soaked rags (animal or vegetable based oils like linseed oil, mink oil, tongue oil, etc.) that were stored in a pile. When the rags are exposed to oxygen the oil on the rags evaporates and generates heat. If the heat reaches a certain temperature it can ignite the combustible rags resulting in a fire.
  • Other fires - Fires that occur infrequently. Fires related to candles, firework use, combustibles in contact with a heat source, and lightning are included here.