A recent mobile home fire in Lolo has led Missoula Rural Fire to warn those with wood stoves to exercise caution while disposing of ashes.

“Investigators believe they have come up with what happened to start the fire”, said Assistant Fire Chief Brent Christofferson. “There were hot ashes from a wood stove that were placed near combustible items on the homeowner’s porch on the night before the fire occurred. They had just cleaned our ash and debris from the stove and put it in a metal pail. They then put the pail on a piece of wooden furniture on the porch. The ashes were still hot and eventually the heat from the pail ignited the furniture, which then spread to the house.”

Christofferson has important advice in the safe disposal of wood stove ash and debris.

“We encourage people to wait 24 to 48 hours after burning wood in a stove or fireplace before cleaning it out,” he said. “Then, place the ash inside a metal container with a lid and never use a combustible container such as a paper bag or cardboard box to put the ashes in. We encourage people to place the metal container outside the home on a noncombustible surface and at least 20 feet away from any structures. Then, allow several days before disposing of ashes in the garbage can or dumpster and then mix it thoroughly with water.”

Christofferson also advises homeowners to make sure their smoke alarms are working in every room of the house.