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Saturday, January 21, 2012

It'a been a quiet wildfire season so far, but.........

It’s been a fairly quite late fall / winter fire season nationally with the recent big fire near Reno reminding us all just how quickly things can change. The Reno wildfire was yet another accidental fire this one caused by improperly discarded ashes.

An "extremely remorseful" man admitted Friday that he accidentally started a brush fire that destroyed 29 homes near Reno when he improperly discarded fireplace ashes at his home south of town, authorities said.
"He came forward on his own accord," Reno Fire Chief Michael Hernandez said about the man. The blaze, fueled by 82 mph wind gusts, burned nearly 3,200 acres and forced the evacuation of up to 10,000 people Thursday.
I will repost some info from earlier posts hoping to give you information on how to properly dispose of ashes and the dangers in not doing so. Please pass this information on to anyone you know who burns wood for heating and cooking in their homes or businesses.

Hot Ash Safety Fact Sheet

Wood ashes retain enough heat to ignite other combustible materials for several days. Forestry officials caution homeowners about this serious threat to the safety of their families and homes. Improper ash disposals have already destroyed homes, outbuildings and valuable resources this fall. Please be careful!!!
 What can you do to prevent forest and field fires from igniting from hot wood ash?
•Dispose of wood ashes in a metal container that can be tightly closed, douse with water, place the closed container outside your home away from combustible materials and leave in the container for several days before disposing of them. (Did you know that many people dispose of their wood stove ashes in garbage containers that are often plastic or even paper bags? It doesn’t take much heat for these types of containers to burst into flames.)
•Teach other family members about the dangers associated with hot ash disposal
•Be careful with ashes around areas you might not consider as combustible during wetter times such as mulched flowerbeds and lawns that are drought stricken.
•Do Not place hot ashes in a dumpster where there are certainly other combustible materials
•Do Not dispose of ashes in a paper, plastic or cardboard containers
•Do Not assume the ashes are cold and pour them onto the ground (even into a hole) where leaves can blow onto them or the wind can stir up sparks.
 A cord of wood produces about 50 pounds of ashes, which can be used for many other purposes.
 Once you are POSITIVE your container of ashes is “Cold”, place in a pile and prepare your container for the next load.
 Ashes from different types of wood vary slightly in their chemical composition, but all kinds of ashes can be used as fertilizer. They produce 50 to 70% lime and contain phosphorus, potash and trace elements. Gardeners can raise the soil’s pH by applying wood ash to their soil. To avoid altering the pH too drastically, take a soil sample prior to the addition of wood ashes to your garden spot. If the soil pH value is below 5.8 and there is a lime recommendation on the soil test, then place a dusting of wood ash on the surface and work it into the soil.
 Ashes may be used as a repellent. Sprinkle ashes beside row crops and on paths through the garden to discourage slugs and snails.

Stay Warm AND SAFE
As we here in Virginia prepare to go into our "Spring Wildfire Season" I will hopefully be back to posting more regularly interesting safety information and information on current wildfire activity in Virginia and elsewhere.