MARYLAND — The Maryland State Fire Marshal warned residents to be extremely careful when disposing of ashes.

This time of year, many people can’t wait to light a roaring fire, but that can put your property and life in danger if they aren’t handled properly. 

The Fire Marshal’s Office cited a fire last night in Fallston as a prime example of what can go wrong. 

A family of five and their pets escaped with their lives but lost everything else including their home, its contents, and their vehicles after a fire broke out last night around 11:43 pm. 

Investigators say the fire started on the back porch because of discarded ashes. It took 50 firefighters 90 minutes to get the flames under control. 

The Maryland State Fire Marshal offered the following tips to keep your family safe:

Treat ALL ashes and coals as HOT ashes, even when you think they had time enough to cool. Take care to dispose of them wisely. Your house, deck or garage are unsafe locations for storing ashes while they cool and have been the site of many recent and devastating fires both locally and nationally. Store cooled ashes in a tightly covered metal container and keep it outside and at least 10 feet from your home or nearby buildings.  The Office of the State Fire Marshal recommends the following:

  • Do not discard your ashes into any combustible container such as a paper or plastic bag, a cardboard box, or a plastic trash can.
  • Do not place ash containers on decks, porches or in garages.
  • Put ashes into a non-combustible metal container with a lid.
  • Pour water into the container to make sure the ashes are cool.
  • Keep your can OUTSIDE the home, away from your fireplace or stove and anything combustible.
  • Teach all family members to be safe with ashes from your fireplace or wood stove.