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Grill fire forces Front Royal family to evacuate home


By Joe Beck

A Thursday evening fire forced a family of 12 to evacuate their home and caused an estimated $350,000 in damage.

Warren County Fire and Rescue officials said Friday the fire at the Robert and Susan Schmidt home at 41 View Drive in Shenandoah Shores was caused by cooking on the gas grill on a side deck.

Fire Chief Richard E. Mabie said efforts to control the fire were complicated by a shortage of water.

"We had to struggle for a little while with water," Mabie said. "There's no water over there. We had to tank water in. A couple of companies assigned to that call were coming from another fire. They had partial water in their apparatus."

Mabie said the water shortage "certainly didn't make a difference in the outcome."

"To be honest with you, I think it went a lot smoother than I anticipated with that much fire," Mabie added.

Firefighters were called to the scene at 7:03 p.m. and arrived three minutes later to find fire showing in the first and second floor windows of the 4,000 square foot house, Mabie said.

Mabie said the family was eating on the back deck of the house when children at play saw the fire and notified their parents. All of them escaped the house without injury, he said.

Fire crews worked their way through the interior of the house and up the stairs before bringing the fire under control at about 7:53 p.m., he said.

Mabie said the fire started on the gas grill, spread to the deck and through the siding of the house.

The Red Cross helped the Schmidt family with financial assistance in paying for meals, clothing and hotel rooms Thursday night.

In a news release, Mabie urged people to follow safe grilling practices. Some tips include:

• Limit propane and charcoal grilling to the outdoors.
• Keep children and pets away from the grilling area.
• Do not leave grills unattended.
• Keep grills away from the house, deck railings, out from under eaves and hanging branches.

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com


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