A good reminder from the Tahoe Fire and Fuels Team: Lake Tahoe’s fire departments are reminding people that it’s dangerous to dispose of fireplace, wood stove or barbecue ashes in improper containers and locations. Embers, often concealed in what appears to be cold ashes, can remain hot enough to kindle a fire for several days. It is recommended to wait at least 96 hours and/or 4 days before disposing ashes.
To safely dispose of ashes:
- Put discarded ashes in a heavy metal container, douse with water, and cover with fitted metal lid.
- Store the container outside and away from structures, decks, fences, wood piles and other combustible materials.
- Never use a vacuum cleaner to pick up ashes.
- Never put ashes in bags or boxes.
- Contact your local trash collection agency for their disposal recommendations after ashes have cooled and embers are out. As the fall and winter heating season approaches, please remember to regularly inspect and clean your chimney. Soot and creosote are combustible materials that accumulate inside chimneys and create a dangerous fire hazard unless they are removed. Just recently, a lakeside home in Zephyr Cove was destroyed by an escaped fire due to a malfunctioning wood burning appliance https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MHJOMG51tp0.If you have an older wood stove or fireplace in your home, please consider upgrading it with a more efficient heat source that can also help improve Lake Tahoe’s air and water quality.
- Newer wood stoves that are EPA compliant have catalytic converters that pull many particulates out of the smoke before it is emitted. Similarly, gas stoves emit significantly less pollutants. Replacing inefficient wood heaters saves heat while protecting the Lake. Rebates are also available to help people replace their older, inefficient wood heaters and fireplaces. More information is available at http://www.trpa.org/permitting/homeowner-info/wood-stoves/.
Other general fire safety tips for the home heating season:
- Make sure you have working smoke alarms on every level of your home, outside each sleeping area, and inside each bedroom. Test alarms at least once a month.
- Keep anything that can burn at least three feet from space heaters and other heat sources.
- Never leave the kitchen when something is cooking.
- Keep candles and matches out of the reach of children.
- Extinguish all fires, even candles, when you leave the room or go to sleep.
- Remember to call 911 for all fires, no matter how small.
People who properly can their ashes and follow these other fire safety tips can save lives and property. Please contact your local fire agency for more information.