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‘Wet them down,’ Henrico officials urge after 2 fires

Two separate fires in the less than 24 hours in Henrico County were caused by folks not properly discarding their fireplace ashes.

"A lot of folks where they get into trouble is they don't realize hot coals can remain a fire hazard for up to four days," Captain Rob Rowley with the Henrico Fire Department said.

In one case, fire destroyed the deck and the house sustained minor damage.

"The deck that caught on fire the ashes had been placed outside on that deck two days before the fire ever happened," Rowley said.

In another, fire damaged three yards and a shed.

"The coals will continue to smolder and if they're not in a proper container a metal bucket with a lid they can catch on fire so they may burn through containers such as cardboard or plastics," Rowley said.

To prevent sparking a fire from your used fireplace ashes, "go ahead and take a second...and make sure you have on some good heavy gloves, long sleeves, and go ahead and throw on some eye protection," Rowley said.

He then recommends getting a metal bucket with a metal lid to dispose of the ashes.

"We never want to use a paper bag or plastic bucket, those things will either catch on fire or melt through and release the embers," Rowley said.

He said the bucket with the ashes should then be doused with water and placed ten feet from any house or structure.

"Allow them to sit for at least four days and then they can be disposed of as trash," Rowley said.

And something else to remember is when it is windy outside it is even more important to cover those hot coals in your metal bucket with a metal top to make sure those coals do not flame up further.