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Dispose of fireplace/wood stove ashes properly at Lake Tahoe



Contact: Tahoe Douglas Fire Protection District, Eric Guevin 775-815-0972 and USDA Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, Lisa Herron 530-721-3898                                   

LAKE TAHOE, Calif./Nev., Nov. 9, 2022 – As the temperatures drop outside, thoughts turn to cozying up in front of a warm indoor fire. When using fireplaces/wood stoves and heating appliances indoors this winter it’s very important to remember a few safety tips and precautions. Heating equipment and improper ash disposal are leading causes of home and wildland fires during the fall and winter months.

Keep homes warm and safe this season by following these safety tips:

  • Heating equipment, chimneys, fireplaces/wood stoves should be inspected and cleaned by a certified chimney sweep every fall before heating season.
  • When cleaning out fireplaces/wood stoves always allow ashes to cool completely before disposing of them. Four days or 96 hours is the minimum recommended cooling period for fireplace/wood stove ashes.
  • Place ashes in a covered metal container with a tight-fitting lid. Keep the container at least 10 feet away from the home and other buildings.
  • The metal container should be placed away from anything flammable. It should not be placed next to a firewood pile, up against or in the garage, on or under a wooden deck, or under a porch.
  • Ashes should never be disposed of in a plastic garbage box or can, a cardboard box or grocery bag that could melt or catch fire. Never use a vacuum cleaner to pick up ashes. 
  • After sitting for a week in the metal container, check ashes again to be sure they are completely cooled. If so, the ashes are then safe to dispose of or used as compost in your garden.
  • Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from a fireplace/wood stove or any other indoor heating appliance and to create a three-foot “kid-free zone.”
  • Ensure fireplaces/wood stoves have a sturdy screen in place to stop sparks from flying.
  • Never leave a fire unattended, particularly when children are present.

Many Fire Districts around the Lake Tahoe Basin have free ash can programs or they can be purchased at hardware stores. Check with your local Fire District for more information.