WALDORF, Md. — A two-story home in Charles County caught fire earlier this week, resulting in a substantial loss of property and a displaced local family.

The fire began on the exterior of the single-family dwelling, located at 3129 Flanders Court in Waldorf, and eventually extended to the house’s roof. The Waldorf Volunteer Fire Department’s primary responding team controlled the fire within 30 minutes.

Owners William and Carol McCowan, who discovered the blaze, were at home but fortunately unharmed. The fire caused an estimated total damage of $150,000, with $125,000 affecting the structure and $25,000 affecting the contents. Firefighters discovered the fire originated from an overloaded power strip on the house’s covered exterior porch.

The fire department’s swift response ensured the fire didn’t spread to neighboring properties, limiting the damage to McCowan’s residence. Thirty-six Waldorf Volunteer Fire Department firefighters arrived at the scene, successfully managing to quell the large volume of fire.

In such incidents, smoke alarms are crucial in alerting occupants about the fire. However, in this instance, the status of the smoke alarm wasn’t applicable as the fire started outside the dwelling.

Firefighters often warn about the hazards of overloaded power strips, which are a common cause of electrical fires. Power strips can become overloaded by plugging in too many devices, especially high-power devices such as heaters or kitchen appliances, which can cause the strip to overheat and catch fire.

The fire department has not made any arrests about the fire, indicating it was an unfortunate accident rather than a deliberate act.

In the aftermath of the incident, the McCowan family is left to deal with the extensive damage to their home. Support from the local community, including neighbors and local aid organizations, can often make a significant difference in such situations.

This incident underlines the importance of fire safety measures, including the safe use of power strips and the presence of functioning smoke alarms, even though it was not a factor in this particular case.

The investigation into the fire has concluded, attributing the cause to the overloaded power strip. The fire has been marked as an accident; no further inquiries are ongoing.

Public safety officials remind everyone to be mindful when using power strips and extension cords. Not overloading these devices and regularly checking them for signs of wear and tear could help prevent similar incidents in the future.

As we head into summer, officials also recommend checking all outdoor electrical setups, particularly on patios and decks, where power strips may be used more frequently due to outdoor activities.

Stay aware, stay safe, and remember – prevention is the key to safety.

David M. Higgins II is an award-winning journalist passionate about uncovering the truth and telling compelling stories. Born in Baltimore and raised in Southern Maryland, he has lived in several East...

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