Ashburn, Va (September 4, 2015) – At approximately 5:30 pm on Thursday, August 20, 2015, Loudoun County received a 9-1-1 call for a possible structure fire in the 41000 Block of Stumptown Road in Waterford. The owner of the home reported that their smoke alarms had activated. Fire department units from Hamilton, Lucketts, Purcellville, Leesburg, Ashburn, and Round Hill responded to the scene and although first arriving units reported no visible fire from the exterior of the single family home, firefighters discovered a haze in basement, with fire in the basement ceiling. Firefighters quickly extinguished the fire, which resulted in an estimated $10,000 in damages.
Working smoke alarms, quick action by the homeowner, and a swift response from emergency personnel prevented a potential tragedy. The Loudoun County Fire Marshal’s Office determined the fire was caused by a failure of Corrugated Stainless Steel Tubing (CSST) initiated by an electrical current from a lightning strike.
The Loudoun County Fire Marshal’s Office has seen an increase in the incidence of fires relating to lighting strikes and CSST. These fires generally occur during an electrical storm and are initiated by an electrical current from a nearby or direct lightning strike. Introduced in 1990, CSST is used to deliver natural gas and propane to residential and commercial structures. If CSST is not bonded and grounded properly, the wall of the tubing is at risk for failure when exposed to an electrical current. Merely having a tank underground is not sufficient grounding. Once the CSST becomes punctured by an electrical current, it allows gas to freely escape posing a fire hazard.
Fire officials encourage homeowners to have a licensed electrician inspect any tubing designed to transmit gas inside a home to ensure that it is properly bonded and grounded. The issues with the CSST do not reflect improper installation of the equipment, rather an issue with the tubing itself. CSST manufacturers have created a website to address any questions residents may have regarding this issue. To learn more about CSST’s history, how to identify if it is in your home, safety solutions, and other information please visit www.csstsafety.com.
For additional fire prevention information visit www.loudoun.gov/firemarshal or contact the Fire Marshal’s Office at 703-737-8600.