Improper ash disposal causes fires

Ash Could Start a Fire
There have been several issues in the news regarding house fires as a result of ashes/embers that have been improperly disposed of. Ashes can contain embers that are hot enough to ignite combustibles DAYS after having a fire. Here are some of the problems related to hot ash disposal.

The biggest story in recent news is the loss of grandparents and three grandchildren on Christmas in Stamford, CT as a result of smoldering ashes/embers that were cleaned out of the fireplace and taken to the back part of the house a couple of hours before the fire started.

Another recent fire was a result of a man putting ashes/embers around a telephone pole to fill in an open area. The hot ashes/embers ignited a plastic covering that protected the ground wires and almost ignited the home.

In another recent situation, a man cleaned out his fireplace, put the hot ashes/embers in a bag, then in a cardboard box and set it on his balcony. A fire broke out in his apartment building displacing about six families.

Smoldering embers have burned through plastic buckets igniting numerous house fires. Also, carrying an open container through the home has also caused hot embers/sparks to leap out of the bucket and ignite inside the home.

Tips on Fireplace Ash Disposal

Garbage cans, garbage trucks, garages, homes and grass fires are just some of the situations in which hot embers have ignited and caused massive damage.

Here are some tips for dealing with hot ashes/embers:

  • Ashes/embers can stay hot for days after a fire.
  • When disposing of ashes outside DON’T dump them on a combustible surface.
  • Use water to wet the ashes/embers to make sure they are completely out.
  • Only use an approved metal ash bucket. It should have a tight fitting metal lid and a double-bottom.
  • Don’t dump ashes outside on a windy day. The wind can whip up what may have seemed cool embers, making them fiery hot and sending them traveling to ignite nearby combustibles.
  • Never burn garbage, wrapping paper, plastic, cardboard or anything not specifically approved for use in a fireplace. These items can lead to a chimney fire, can cause large embers to exit the flue igniting nearby combustibles AND the ashes/embers can be unpredictable.
  • NEVER dump ashes into a plastic container, cardboard box, bag, or anything or place where combustible fluids of fumes are present.
    By using good common sense many of the above fires could have been avoided. Enjoy your fireplace or woodstove but always dispose of the ashes wisely.