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Discarded ashes may hold potential for fire

By Shelley Smith
ssmith@salisburypost.com
This weekendís dry and windy weather will be the perfect combination for fires to spark and get out of hand, and the North Carolina Division of Forest Resources wants you to be prepared ó particularly those who use wood heaters or fireplaces.
Rowan County Forest Ranger David Poole said winter wood heaters and fireplace ashes are responsible for many wood and house fires during the winter months and often start several days after the ashes have been thrown out.
Poole said a bucket of ashes can hold hot embers for several days, and the embers should always be put in a metal container away from the home, or, buried in mineral soil in your garden.
ěThose are really the only two safe options,î Poole said. ěAnything thatís plastic or paper will melt if the ashes are still hot.î
Ashes should never be put in a paper bag, box or other flammable container, and should never be stored in a garage, deck or wooded area, he said.
Poole said three fires last week in Rowan County were due to improper ash disposal.
ěAnytime youíve got low relative humidity and youíve got wind, and leaf and pine litter on the top of the ground, thatís generally what carries the fires,î he said.
And debris burning is another big problem in the winter.
ěPeople donít tend to their fire and it gets away from them,î Poole said.
Unless there is a burning ban in place, anyone can burn, and a permit is encouraged, Poole said.
From 12 midnight to 4 p.m. you do have to have a permit, but from 4 p.m. until 11:59 p.m., no permit is required.
ěWe always encourage people to get one anyway, just to be safe,î Poole said. ěIt is the law; you should have one.î
The backs of permits are informational, and include air quality rules and safety tips, Poole said.
To get a free burning permit, contact a local county burning permit agency, or visit http://www.dfr.state.nc.us/ and click on the ěBurning Permitsî link.
For more information on burning permits or proper ash removal, contact the Rowan County Division of Forest Resources at 704-216-8993.

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