HENRICO COUNTY, Va. — Ashes left unattended in a trash can next to a home sparked an early-morning house fire on Seminary Avenue in Henrico. While the homeowner was able to control most of the flames with a garden hose, the fire damage was significant enough to force him from his North Henrico house so it can undergo repairs.
The fire was marked under control at 1: 44 a.m.
“The fire was determined to have been accidental in nature and caused by ashes from a fireplace being placed in a trash can on the side of the home. The ashes ignited the trash can and the side of the home. The occupant of the home was alerted to the fire by the smell of smoke inside the house. The home did not have a working smoke alarm at the time of the fire,” Henrico Fire spokesman Lt. Danny Rosenbaum said. “Ashes from a previous fire can stay hot enough for days to catch plastic and paper on fire. Always place ashes in a metal container and away from the home.”
As the weather turns colder, firefighters wanted to share some fireplace safety tips in an effort to keep people safe this winter.
There are 5 things Henrico firefighters said should never be burned in a fireplace:
- Never burn garbage in the fireplace
- Never burn rolled newspapers in the fireplace
- Never burn charcoal in the fireplace
- Never burn plastic in the fireplace
- Never burn a Christmas tree in the fireplace
Henrico Fire would like to caution everyone when using wood burning fireplaces to follow some basic safety guidelines.:
- Have the chimney inspected annually, and cleaned as necessary, by a professional chimney sweep to ensure it’s clear of obstructions and creosote.
- Have a cap installed at the top of the chimney to avoid the possibility that debris or animals can block the chimney.
- Install both a smoke and carbon monoxide detector. (Make sure the batteries work.)
- Keep a fire extinguisher on hand.
- Make sure the area around the fireplace is clear of furniture, books, newspapers and other potentially flammable materials.
- Clean out ashes from previous fires. Open the damper.
- Use a fireplace grate.
- Keep glass doors open during the fire.
- Use fireplace tools to tend the fire.
- Build a safe fire.
- Always close the firescreen when in use.
- Never use gasoline or any liquid accelerant to help start a fire.
- Keep small children and pets away from the fireplace.
- Never leave a fire unattended.
- Don’t close the damper until the embers have completely stopped burning.
- Make sure the fire is completely out before going to bed or leaving the house.
- When cleaning the fireplace, store ashes in a non-combustible container with a tightly fitting lid and place the container away from the house. Ashes from a previous fire can stay hot enough to catch fire for days after the fire is out.