Fire In Ashburn, Virginia Leaves 1 Dead & 2 Injured
Despite one death and multiple injuries, officials do not expect to file misdemeanor or felony charges for residential arson in an Ashburn fire, according to an article by the Loudoun Times-Mirror.
County officials stated that this fire occurred at approximately 1:30 a.m. on Tuesday, March 29. Apparently, someone discarded smoking materials in the 42900 block of Nashua Street. The resulting fire spread to four different homes.
The Loudoun County Combined Fire and Rescue Services responded to this fire with units from Ashburn, Lansdowne, Leesburg, and Moorefield, including command staff. When first responders arrived at the scene, the fire was blazing in one residence and spreading to several others on either side. Firefighters apparently focused on putting out the main fire and checking all structures for residents.
As a result of this incident, one person died, and two people sustained injury. In addition, 11 people were displaced from four residential homes, buildings which sustained a total of approximately $4 million in damage.
At this point, county officials believe that this fire was accidental in nature. Consequently, it is unlikely that any person faces criminal charges for starting this fire. Even though this fire was apparently accidental — rather than incendiary — it represents a suitable opportunity to review residential arson laws and penalties in Virginia.
Virginia Laws Against Residential Arson
The state laws against residential arson appear under Code of Virginia Section 18.2-77. This section prohibits the malicious:
- Burning or destroying, partially or totally, of any dwelling house or manufactured home; or
- Aiding or abetting the partial or total burning/destroying of any dwelling house or manufactured home.
In addition to dwelling houses and manufactured homes, Section 18.2-77 also prohibits the malicious burning or destroying of any occupied:
- Mental health facility;
- Railroad car;
- River craft;
- Buildings owned or leased by a church;
- Buildings adjacent to a church; or
- Other places where people typically lodge or dwell.
Virginia Penalties for Residential Arson
The Virginia penalties for residential arson also appear under Section 18.2-77. There are two different penalty structures for this offense.
If the residential arson occurs at an occupied building or structure, it is a felony crime. A conviction can result in imprisonment for five years to life and criminal fines up to $100,000.
If the residential arson occurs at an unoccupied building or structure, it is a Class 4 felony crime. A conviction can result in imprisonment for two to 10 years and criminal fines up to $100,000.
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