This coming January marks the six-year anniversary of the Washoe Drive Fire. This winter fire took one person’s life, destroyed 29 homes and burned approximately 3,200 acres in the Washoe Valley and Pleasant Valley areas south of Reno. The cause of the fire was thought to be attributed to the disposal of fireplace ashes. Presented below is information prepared by the Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District concerning proper fireplace ash disposal.
With the increased use of outdoor fireplaces and alternative heating/cooking methods, the Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District would like to remind you of proper ways to dispose of leftover ashes. Nationally, improper ash disposal from indoor and outdoor fireplaces and wood burning stoves causes thousands of fires every year.
Many people do not realize the length of time required for ashes to cool enough for disposal. Even after several days, a pile of ashes can hold enough heat to reignite and start a fire. Four days, or 96 hours, is the minimum recommended cooling period for ashes. Extra care should be used in the storage and final disposal.
When disposing of the ashes, you should use the following procedures:
- Make sure there are no hot spots left in the ashes. This is done by soaking them in water or letting them sit for several days and double checking for hot spots. This would apply to charcoal grill ashes as well.
- All ashes should then be stored in a fire-resistant metal container. This helps keep air from blowing through and disturbing ashes which can leave hot coals exposed for reigniting. Approved containers are available at local retailers. They should NEVER be disposed of in a plastic garbage box or can, a cardboard box or paper grocery bag. Never use a vacuum cleaner to pick up ashes.
- The metal container should be placed away from anything flammable. It should not be placed next to a firewood pile, up against or in the garage, on or under a wood deck or under a porch.
- After sitting for a week in the closed metal container, check them again to be sure that they are cool. If so, the ashes are then safe to dispose of in your trash.
Ash cans can also be purchased from your local hardware store.