Bucket full of ashes starts late night fire in Cedar City home

Plastic bucket of ash started a carpet fire in a Cedar City home Friday morning, 375 N. 800 West, Cedar City, Utah, Feb. 5, 2016 | Photo by Carin Miller, St. George News

CEDAR CITY — A Cedar City home was endangered late Thursday night, early Friday morning, after a plastic bucket full of ashes from a wood burning stove melted in the middle of the night while the family was asleep.  

Cedar City Fire Department and Gold Cross Ambulance were dispatched to 375 N. 800 West, only several doors north of the fire station, at 1:23 a.m. to respond to a possible structure fire.

Fortunately for the family, Fire Engineer Russel Brunson said, flames had yet to erupt by the time fire crews arrived.

“The ashes were still hot and they melted through the container and caught the carpet on fire,” Brunson said. “We were able to contain it to maybe a 1×1-foot area in front of the wood burning stove and they were able to go back in and stay in their residence last night.”

The children in the home were charged with the task of removing the ash from the stove earlier that evening so the family could start a fresh fire in the stove for the evening, Brunson said. It wasn’t until after the family was in bed that the woman of the house smelled smoke in the middle of the night and woke up.

“It was just a light smoke,” he said. “It wasn’t quite the dark and heavy smoke that you expect with a structure fire.”

The ashes had burned clear through the container they were in, he said, and the carpet was smoldering, filling the house with a light smoke throughout.

Ashes are volatile and can carry heat for a long period of time, Brunson said, eventually creating conditions that could ignite into flames long after one may think a fire has been extinguished.

For that reason, it is recommended that anyone who is cleaning out a wood burning stove or fireplace places the ashes into a metal container and then douse it with water, he said.

“(Embers in the ash) can last for quite some time,” Brunson said. “When they get contained into a bucket, if they are not stirred with water really well … a lot of times it will just hold the heat in down in there lower, because ashes tend to repel water.”

After the ashes are transferred to a metal bucket and doused, Brunson said, the bucket should be set away from any structures for at least a week before the ashes are finally dumped.

Though some people may be tempted to take care of something as low key as a smoldering carpet on their own, Brunson said, firefighters recommend always calling the fire department out in response to ensure that there are no hidden embers that could potentially become a full-fledged house fire.

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

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