Several times a year we respond to fires that are caused by improper
disposal of hot coals or ashes from fireplaces, grills, or mobile
fireplaces designed for use on decks or patios. The scenario is often
similar . . . "I thought the coals were cool", or even worse, "I didn't
even think about it . . ."
The fact is that coals and ashes from fires can remain hot enough to
start a fire for many hours or perhaps days after you think the fire is
out. The exact amount of time for complete extinguishment and cooling
depends on many factors such as how hot the fire was, what was burning,
how much unburned fuel remains, etc. To be safe, simply treat all ashes
and coals as hot, even when you think they had time enough to cool.
The damage above resulted when hot ashes were placed in a plastic trash container.
To properly dispose of ashes or coals we recommend the following:
If possible, allow ashes and coals to cool in the area where you had the fire for several days. The fireplace or grill is designed to contain their heat safely.
When it's time to dispose of the ashes, transfer them to a metal container and wet them down.
Keep the container outside your home and away from any combustibles until the refuse is hauled away.
DO NOT use galvanized containers as hot coals on the galvanized metal will release noxious fumes.