Ashes in trash can spark overnight house fire in Henrico

(Photo courtesy Henrico Fire)

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Fire crews responded to a house overnight in Henrico.

Firefighters arrived on scene in the 5600 block of Seminary Avenue for a report of a house fire at 1:27 Monday morning. First arriving units reported a single story home with smoke visible.

The owner of the home was able to extinguish the majority of the fire with a garden hose before crews arrived. Fire crews extinguished the remainder of the fire and checked inside the home. The fire was marked under control at 1:44 a.m.

There were no injuries due to the fire. One adult male will be displaced from the home for a short period of time.

The fire was determined to have been accidental in nature. Officials say it was caused by ashes from a fireplace that had been put in a trash can on the side of the home. The ashes ignited the trash can and the side of the home.

The occupant was alerted to the fire after smelling smoke inside the house. There was not a working smoke alarm in the home at the time of the fire.

Henrico Fire would like to caution everyone when using wood burning fireplaces to follow some basic safety guidelines: 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.

(Photo courtesy Henrico Fire)
(Photo courtesy Henrico Fire)

Woodburning and gas fireplaces are designed to safely provide years of comfort, warmth and relaxation. To ensure they can do their job, fireplaces require maintenance and proper operation. Before lighting the first fire of the season, there are a few important fireplace safety tips to remember:

Preventive Maintenance

  • 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. (Three feet away is a good rule.)

Lighting Fire

  • 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.

General Fireplace Safety

  • Never burn garbage, rolled newspapers, charcoal or plastic in the fireplace.
  • 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.
  • Never burn a Christmas tree in the fireplace.

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