QUINTON - A storage building in Woodhaven Shores recently caught fire and exploded.
On Nov. 19, New Kent Fire-Rescue received a mid-afternoon call from a concerned citizen about black smoke in Woodhaven Shores Entrance 3 in Quinton.
When the fire department arrived at 7210 Lakeshore Drive, an unattached privately owned storage building was fully engulfed in flames, burning approximately 1 1/2 acres and threatening to destroy a nearby residence.
Following the incident, residents peppered social media sites with concern. Several claimed to have heard and felt the shock wave caused by the explosion.
“I heard a loud [boom] and the office shook,” said Woodhaven Shores manager Jessica Shepherd Kuehl. “The shed caught on fire, then blew up a propane tank, and the entire leaf-filled backyard.”
According to Kuehl, fire responders arrived in a matter of minutes after the explosion.
The fire was controlled in approximately 30 minutes and there were no civilian or firefighter injuries.
An investigation by the Virginia Department of Forestry revealed that the fire was accidental and started after burn pile ashes rekindled.
“Ashes can insulate and preserve embers for several days after a fire burns itself out. The dry conditions, low humidity and gusting winds fanned these embers and exposed them to the dry fallen leaves nearby,” said New Kent Battalion Chief Eugene “Cricket” Gerald.
According to the Virginia Department of Forestry, debris burning is the number one cause of wildfires in the state. More than 1,000 fires each year are caused by debris burning, which is not allowed until 4 p.m. if within 300 feet of woods or dry grass.
“New Kent Fire-Rescue would like to remind everyone to be extremely careful with all outside burning due to dry conditions and the increased fuel provided by fallen leaves,” Gerald said.
The Virginia Department of Forestry recommends that instead of burning leaves, residents consider “safe and more environmentally-friendly options, such as chipping, composting, recycling and creating brush piles for wildlife habitat.”
However, if residents are intent on burning, the department advises that they take the following precautions:
• Do not begin burning until they understand local burning regulations, techniques, conditions, and know the safest time of day and year to burn.
• Create a 10-foot clearing around any burning container or piled material.
• Keep burning containers and brush piles away from overhanging branches.
• Keep brush piles small. If not completely extinguished, large piles can retain heat and flare up on a windy day.
• Ensure the burn barrel (if applicable) is in good condition and the top is covered with a wire screen with 1/4-inch or less openings.
• Always keep a hose and shovel on hand. Make sure the water is turned on until the burning is complete and the fire is dead.
• Wait until late spring after the grass has greened up and late in the day with less wind.
• Do not burn on dry, windy days when the wind is more than 10 mph.
• Do not leave outdoor burning unattended.
For more information on outside burning limitations, please visit: www.nkfr.net.
Martin can be reached by phone at 804-885-0040.