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Be sure to get rid of ashes properly

RALEIGH — With the arrival of cold weather, many North Carolinians are beginning to use their wood-burning stoves and fireplaces. The N.C. Forest Service reminds stove users to never dump hot ashes or coals into a wooded area. If you do, you’re risking not only your home, but your neighbor’s as well.

In Mitchell County recently, an eight-acre fire on Humpback Mountain damaged two homes. The suspected cause of the blaze was stove or fireplace ashes that had been dumped outside a residence.

“Despite more than an inch of snow on Halloween night, the low humidity and dry fuels led to an intense fire that burned through a hardwood stand with 5-foot flames in the hardwood litter and flames reaching 13-15 feet in the laurel and rhododendron,” said Greg Smith, district forester.“The N.C. Forest Service and four local fire departments arrived on scene to find a home on fire. While crews were able to save both structures, one suffered fairly significant damage.”

The simple solution to preventing this type of fire is to properly dispose of stove ashes, Smith said. Soak them in water in a metal bucket, stir them about, or only put them in an area where the wind won’t cause them to spread to combustible fuel such as leaves, pine needles or other forest litter.

For more fire prevention tips, visit http://ncforestservice.gov or call your county ranger’s office.

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