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Hot leaf blower started Meadowbrook Farms shed fire

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. –Firefighters said cranking up a leaf blower and not letting it cool down completely sparked a shed fire in Chesterfield’s  Meadowbrook Farms neighborhood Thursday evening.

Fire crews were called to the 4700 block of Bonnie Brae Road at about 7:35 p.m. Thursday to fight the shed fire.

Fire marshals said a leaf blower that had not cooled off enough ignited a nearby bag of charcoal, which set off a series of explosion.

Michael Thomas lost everything he had in the shed. Thomas said he allowed the leaf blower to cool, but maybe not enough.

The blaze forced three homes to be evacuated because the flames melted power lines causing them to fall onto a fence.

“I would have been fried turkey if I would have touched the fence,” neighbor Daniel Valencia said.  Valencia ran out of his mother’s home to inspect the fire damage. “I’m glad they came running after me and put me in cuffs, pretty much, because I wasn’t stopping.”

Jason Schaeffer, a CBS 6 viewer, provided the station with video of the fire. You can see black smoke and sparks fire into the air from behind the Bonnie Brae Road home. Loud pops can be heard on the video. Schaeffer told the child they were fireworks, perhaps in an effort to ease the child’s mind.

Neighbors gathered for support and told Thomas that they have made the same mistake for years.

“Fire crews arrived to find the shed fully involved with fire and power lines that had fallen onto a fence,” Chesterfield Fire and EMS spokesman Lt. Jason Elmore wrote in an email. “Firefighters operated with extreme caution due to the power lines that had fallen on the metal fence causing the fence to be energized.”

Firefighters advise residents to let your equipment completely cool. But if you can’t, be sure to make sure it has a three foot buffer zone around it.

Dominion Virginia Power restored power to the area by 8 a.m. Friday. No one was hurt in the fire.

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