The Washington Post

Falls Church fire that killed mother, daughter ruled accidental

A house fire that killed a mother and daughter has been ruled accidental, fire officials in Fairfax County announced Thursday.

Investigators said they traced the blaze, which ripped through a single-story home on Manor Road in Falls Church early in the morning on Jan. 23, to a wall-mounted natural gas heater in the living room.

The exact point of failure could not be determined, officials said.

The fire claimed the lives of 48-year-old Laura Snyder-Gardner, a math professor at Gallaudet University, and her 16-year-old daughter, Mary Ann, who was a student at the Model Secondary School for the Deaf.

According to the medical examiner, the cause of death was smoke inhalation. Officials said there were smoke alarms in the home, but they could not determine if they were visual alarms because of the extensive fire damage.

Laura Snyder Gardner, is believed to be one of the victims in a fatal house fire in Falls Church Tuesday. (Photo courtesy of Rocco Leo Gaglioti) (Courtesy of Rocco Leo Gaglioti/COURTESY OF ROCCO LEO GAGLIOTI)

Previous coverage:

Deaf mother, daughter die in house fire in Falls Church

Friends recall pair killed in house fire

Gallaudet community mourns victims of house fire


Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments
Most Read


Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Your Three. Videos curated for you.
Play Videos
Deaf banjo player teaches thousands
Perks of private flying
Drawing as an act of defiance
Play Videos
Husband finds love, loss in baseball
Bao: The signature dish of San Francisco
From foster homes to the working world
Play Videos
How soccer is helping Philadelphia men kick the streets
Here's why you hate the sound of your own voice
The woman behind the Nats’ presidents ‘Star Wars’ makeover
Play Videos
How hackers can control your car from miles away
How to avoid harmful chemicals in school supplies
How much can one woman eat?

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.