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Two firefighters injured in Fair Oaks fire

Two Fairfax County firefighters were injured Monday night while trying to put out a fire in an apartment building at 4224 Hunt Club Circle in Fair Oaks. A third-floor roof collapse sent one firefighter tumbling from a burning balcony and injured one other. Authorities said neither injury is life-threatening.

The fire began on the top floor of a garden apartment at about 6 p.m., and flames quickly spread to the attic and the roof, according to the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department. Officials said "improper disposal of fireplace ashes" caused the fire, which displaced 20 people from 16 apartments. It took 60 firefighters -- challenged with snow, ice and difficult road conditions -- approximately 40 minutes to bring the fire under control.

WIth the cold temperatures, the snow already on the ground and more expected Tuesday and Wednesday, many people have been turning to indoor fires and heating units to fight the chills. With power outages across the region, some have turned to such heating methods as their only source of warmth.

Officials warn that indoor fires and other, more unconventional, heating methods could pose serious risks if not carefully watched and tended. For example, fireplace ashes should always be disposed of in a metal container with a lid and never in a cardboard box, paper bag, or other flammable containers. Fireplace ashes often contain smoldering embers and can be deceptively hot.

And you should never use a charcoal grill or electrical generator inside your home, as they can emit colorless, odorless and tasteless carbon monoxide, which can cause serious injuries and death. Same goes for sitting in a non-ventilated car for heat. My colleague Matt Zapotosky wrote about several cases in the area
some resulting in tragic circumstances when people were just trying to stay warm.

-- Josh White

By Josh White  |  February 9, 2010; 1:20 PM ET
Categories:  Fairfax , Heroes , Josh White  
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