Each year, Portland Fire & Rescue responds to fires that are caused by improper disposal of hot coals or ashes from fireplaces, wood stoves, pellet stoves, grills or mobile fireplaces designed for use on decks or patios.
The fact is that coals and ashes from fires can remain hot enough to start a fire for many days after you think the fire is out. The exact amount of time for complete extinguishment and cooling depends on many factors such as how hot the fire was, what was burning, how much unburned fuel remains, etc.
To be safe, simply treat all ashes and coals as hot, even when you think they had time enough to cool. To properly dispose of ashes or coals we recommend the following:
If possible, allow ashes and coals to cool in the area where you had the fire for several days. These devices are designed to contain their heat safely.
When it is time to dispose of the ashes, transfer them to a metal container and wet them down.
Keep the metal container outside your home and away from any combustibles until the refuse is hauled away.
DO NOT place any other combustibles in the metal container.
DO NOT use a combustible container.
More Fireplace Safety Tips
Have your chimney inspected annually, and cleaned as necessary, by a professional chimney sweep to ensure it is clear of obstructions and creosote.
Repair any cracks in your chimney and fireplace.
Use fireplace screens to keep sparks and fire debris inside the fireplace.
Do not use an accelerant to start a fire.
Ensure the fire is completely out before going to bed or leaving the house.
Make sure the area around the fireplace is clear of all combustibles (Three feet away is a good rule).
Keep all children and pets a safe distance from fireplaces.
Install both smoke and carbon monoxide alarms.
Keep a fire extinguisher on hand.
Observe all safety precautions when using outdoor fireplaces they can be just as dangerous as indoor units.