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Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District says residents still careless with ashes


A firefighter watches fire behavior preparing for action as it approaches the house. The Picnic Rock fire gobbled 8900 acres, burned two structures and forced the evacuation of 140 residents. (Photo courtesy of BLM Colorado)


Following several recent incidents, the Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District (TMFPD) Chief is reminding Washoe County residents once again about the dangers of fireplace ash disposal.

“One person dumped their ashes on the ground near a storage shed and started the building on fire,” said TMFPD Chief Charles A. Moore. “Another dumped them in a trash container and the container caught fire in the street. People have just got to realize how dangerous the improper disposal of ashes can be.”

Due to the increased use of fireplaces and pellet stoves during the severe cold weather, the TMFPD advises residents to be extremely vigilant about all ash disposal.

Chief Moore said that even after several days, piles of ashes can hold enough heat to reignite and start a fire, so extra care should be used in the storage and final disposal of all ashes by following these steps:

All ashes should be stored in a metal fire-resistant container with a tight fitting cover (buckets made especially for storage of ashes are available at many area retailers). Any container stored outside should also be secured so that the container and lid do not tip over in high winds. Ashes should NEVER be disposed of in a plastic garbage bag or can, a cardboard box, or paper grocery bag. While this sounds obvious, it happens far too often.

Once the ashes are in the metal container, make sure there are no hot spots left in the ashes. This is done either by soaking them in water or leaving them to sit for a few days in the container. This practice should also be applied to cigarette and charcoal grill ashes.

The metal container should then be placed away from anything that can burn. It should not be placed next to the firewood pile, up against the garage, on or under a wooden deck, or under a porch. If stored in a garage, be VERY careful to keep the container well away from any combustible materials.

After sitting in this metal container for at least a week, the ashes should again be checked for hot spots. If no hot spots are found, the ashes are then safe to dispose of in your normal trash when taken to the curb.

DO NOT dispose of ashes in open areas outdoors. Piles of ash lying in open dirt areas can easily become hot and spread to vegetation or buildings with even a light wind.

For more information, please visit www.washoecounty.us/tmfpd.

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