Fire Safety Newsletter


The Fire Marshal’s Office newsletter provides information about some of the common fire causes in Loudoun County and the cost of damages associated with each cause. 

Contact the Fire Marshal’s Office with any questions regarding this information at 703-737-8600.

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Accidental Fire Newsletter Summer 2021

Fire Causes Definitions

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.

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 disposal of smoking materials – Fires that are caused by the disposal of hot cigarette butts or ashes in or near combustible materials.

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.

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.

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.