From Oracle Firewise: Ashes to Ashes

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Fireplaces bring their own set of concerns.

Winter is in full swing cold nights and days abound. No doubt that fireplace or wood stove is in full gear, cranking out the heat and keeping ya warm. After that warm evening you have a pile of ashes. You got them, now what are you going to do with them? Grab that bucket, shovel them out, and put the bucket on the patio till tomorrow. Next day, when the bucket is cool, you dump them on the far end of the property or out with the trash. Oh, I think you know the rest of the story, and it’s not pretty. They sat for a day, the bucket was cold, and you saw no embers when you dumped them, what could go wrong?

  Saturday, 2 a.m.: a mother smells smoke and escapes from the house with her two children in their pajamas.  Their home and most of the contents are destroyed. The fire started in a bag containing ashes left next to the home’s wood siding the prior evening.

  Tuesday, 3 p.m.: an elderly man inside his home smells an acidic smoky smell and notices black smoke outside his backyard facing window. In seconds the house is filled with smoke coming through the open window. 911 is called, the fire department arrives. The fire is in the homeowner’s compost pile. Fireplace ashes were deposited there two days ago. The homeowner is transported for smoke inhalation. 

  Monday, 4:30 p.m.: on Main St. just north of downtown, rush hour. A garbage truck has just dumped a “hot load” in the middle of the road. A passerby flagged the operator down saying there are flames coming out from the top of the truck. The road is closed, the fire department arrives. Wet burnt smelly garbage flows down the road and into the storm drains. Cleanup takes 5 hours. Hot ashes dumped into a trash can, the fire investigator’s report reads. It could have been worse. A $300,000 garbage truck could have been destroyed, or worse, a home burnt down when the plastic trash can catches fire next to the home.

  What could go wrong? Nothing this time, you were lucky. Next time make sure you use that metal bucket and let them sit for 3-4 days. Wet them down after you dump them in a cleared area. If you have to put ashes in the trash, wet them down in the bucket and bag them wet.

  Don’t let ashes make more ashes.

Article by Dale Suter, Oracle Firewise.

Staff (5303 Posts)

There are news or informational items frequently written by staff or submitted to the Copper Basin News, San Manuel Miner, Superior Sun, Pinal Nugget or Oracle Towne Crier for inclusion in our print or digital products. These items are not credited with an author.


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