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Ash Can Program

With the increased use of outdoor fireplaces and alternative heating/cooking methods, the North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District would like to remind you of proper ways to dispose of leftover ashes.  Nationally, improper ash disposal from indoor and outdoor fireplaces and wood-burning stoves causes thousands of fires every year.

Many people do not realize the length of time required for ashes to cool enough for disposal.  Even after several days, a pile of ashes can hold enough heat to reignite and start a fire.  Four days, or 96 hours, is the minimum recommended cooling period for ashes. Extra care should be used in the storage and final disposal.

When disposing of the ashes, you should use the following procedures:

  • Make sure there are no hot spots left in the ashes.  This is done by soaking them in water or letting them sit for several days and double-checking for hot spots.   This would apply to charcoal grill ashes as well.
  • All ashes should then be stored in the fire-resistant metal container provided.  This helps keep air from blowing through and disturbing ashes which can leave hot coals exposed for reigniting.  Approved containers are available at local retailers.  They should NEVER be disposed of in a plastic garbage box or can, a cardboard box, or paper grocery bag.  Never use a vacuum cleaner to pick up ashes.
  • 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 wood deck, or under a porch.
  • After sitting for a week in the metal container, check them again to be sure that they are cool. If so, the ashes are then safe to dispose of in your trash.

As a safety precaution keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from a fireplace, wood stove, or any other heating appliance, and create a three-foot “kid-free zone” around open fires. It is important to make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying, and never leave a fire unattended, particularly when children are present.

For our Incline Village and Crystal Bay residents that rely on a wood-burning device for heat, please fill out the 2024AshCanProgramFillableApplication.pdf also available at the Fire District Administration Office, 866 Oriole Way, Incline Village. If the required criteria are met, an ash can will be provided. Inside each ash can, residents will find an instructional flyer on how to properly dispose of fireplace ashes. Ash cans will be provided to qualifying residents on a first-come, first-serve basis.


Can Your Ashes infographic