Fatal Fairfax Co. house fire caused by ‘improperly discarded smoking materials’

WASHINGTON — The Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department has released the cause of a fatal house fire Monday morning that killed a man and sent another to the hospital.

The department said Tuesday the fire in the 4100 block of Mount Echo Lane was caused by “improperly discarded smoking materials.”

The department did not provide any specifics about the smoking materials.

Authorities said the house had smoke alarms but they never activated.

Firefighters were called to the single-story house in the Greenbriar section of Fairfax County at about 10:40 a.m. Monday. Fire officials said smoke was showing from one of the bedroom’s windows when they arrived and one of the men, who lived in the house, had managed to escape and was waiting for firefighters in his front yard.

Firefighters were able to put the fire out quickly, the department said. The man who died was discovered inside the house.

No firefighters were injured, and the department estimated total damages at $18,750.

The department said firefighters and paramedics would be going door-to-door in the neighborhood Tuesday to offer safety tips and check smoke alarms, change batteries and install new alarms where necessary.

The fire department also released this list of safety tips:

  • Never dispose of cigarette butts in potted planting soil. The soil, when it gets too dry, can become highly flammable.
  • Completely douse butts and ashes with water before throwing them away, as they can smolder and cause a fire.
  • Never smoke in bed.
  • Provide large, deep ashtrays with a center support for smokers. Check furniture for any dropped ashes before going to bed. Empty ashes into a fireproof container with water and sand.
  • Keep smoking materials away from anything that can burn (i.e., mattresses, bedding, upholstered furniture, draperies, etc.).
  • Never smoke in a home where oxygen is being used.
  • If you smoke, choose fire-safe cigarettes. They are less likely to cause fires.
  • To prevent a deadly cigarette fire, you must be alert. You won’t be if you are sleepy, have been drinking, or have taken medicine or other drugs.
  • Keep matches and lighters up high, out of children’s sight and reach.

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