Keep a lid on fireplace ashes
January 24, 2012
Improperly discarded fireplace ashes are the cause of the 3,177-acre Washoe Drive fire that claimed 29 structures and forced the evacuation of nearly 10,000 people at its height.
The ashes combined with estimated 80 mph winds and an unusually dry winter to create a disaster.
Not long before the Washoe Drive fire, a similar situation occurred along Silverado in northern Douglas County.
The wind blew an ash bucket over sending embers down wind to set a handful of spot fires. Pretty much where ever a hot coal landed, a fire started, claiming a fence, a swingset, even a bit of lawn.
But for a quick response, Western Nevada could have been dealing with two conflagrations instead of the one.
That’s why figuring out a system for storing and disposing of fireplace ashes during the winter is so important.
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It takes eight days for fireplace ashes to cool sufficiently to be disposed of outside of a fireproof container. With the cold nights we had through the first part of this month those embers are being replenished on a regular basis.
East Fork Fire Investigator Capt. Terry Taylor points out that he spent $30 for a galvanized steel garbage can with a tight fitting lid to store his ashes. The lid should be tight enough to stay on should the can be knocked over.
Now that we’ve had some nice wet storms, there’s a little maneuvering room between a minor accident and a disaster, but keeping a lid on those ashes is a good idea, for your sake, and the sake of your neighbors.