Smoking materials to blame for at least two fires in Fairfax Co. on Wednesday

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FAIRFAX CO., Va. – Fairfax County Fire and Rescue officials say smoking materials, improperly thrown away, led to at least two major fires on Wednesday.

The dry, hot, “red flag” weather conditions also played a part in the fires rapidly spreading, officials say.

Fortunately, in all three fires, there were no serious injuries or fatalities.

The department held a press conference 14400 block of Woodmere Court in Centreville on Thursday, a senior living facility, where the first fire started.

Officials say at least 100 residents were displaced from the Forest Glen Senior Apartments and at least 75 units were evacuated, including some residents that had to be carried out.

Less than a half hour later, crews got a call to the 5800 block Watermark Circle for town homes on fire.

The department says at least ten homes were significantly damaged along Deer Lake Lane, but the cause of that fire is still under investigation.

Around 4:00 p.m., crews got a call to the United Bank on Fair Lakes Boulevard.

Officials say the fire was sparked by smoking materials tossed into the mulch of a tree near the building.

Acting Fire Chief John Caussin said 40 percent of the structure fires in Fairfax County this year have been caused by smoking materials.

The department would like to remind all residents who smoke to keep in mind the below safety tips:

  • Never dispose of cigarette butts in potted planting soil. The soil, when it gets too dry, can become highly flammable.
  • Never flick cigarettes into mulch or shrubbery. Dispose of them in a suitable ashtray or bucket with sand. Ensure designated outside smoking areas have an appropriate fireproof container, ashtray or bucket.
  • 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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