Hot ashes blamed for two Carolina Shores fires

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By Staff Brunswick Beacon

Two separate fires within 24 hours damaged Carolina Shores residences, and both were caused by improper disposal of hot ashes.

The first blaze was reported around 6:15 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 1. Arriving Calabash Fire Department units found flames shooting from the garage area of a home at 9 Carolina Shores Parkway. The fire was brought under control in about 45 minutes, but the garage and adjoining areas were heavily damaged by the blaze, and there was smoke and water damage to most of the residence.  A vehicle parked in the garage was destroyed, and one in the driveway was badly damaged.  

Residents of the house escaped unharmed. The fire is believed to have ignited from fireplace ashes placed in the garage in a plastic garbage pail. The homeowner thought they were no longer hot.

The Calabash Fire Department was assisted by the mutual aid response of Sunset Beach, Grissettown, and Horry County fire departments as well as the Ocean Isle Fire Department, which provided station coverage.  Brunswick County EMS and the Calabash Rescue Squad also responded.

Calabash firefighters were called out again around 5:15 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 2, to a woods fire that spread to a residence at 1109 Captains Court. That fire was quickly brought under control, and there was minimal damage to the back of the garage. The homeowner at 1111 Captains Court told firefighters he had emptied what he thought were safely cooled ashes from his fire pit into the woods behind his house, and that is believed to have started the blaze.

Coals and ashes from fires can remain hot enough to start a fire for many hours or even days after the fire appears to be out, fire officials said. The exact amount of time for complete extinguishment depends on many things such as how hot the fire was, what was burned, etc. To be completely safe, treat all ashes and coals as hot even when you think they have had enough time to cool.

To properly dispose of ashes or coals, the fire department recommends the following:

If possible, allow ashes and coals to cool in the area where you had the fire for several days. Fireplaces and grills are designed to contain heat safely.

When disposing of ashes, transfer them to a metal container and wet them down thoroughly. Do not use galvanized containers because hot coals on galvanized metal will release noxious fumes.

Do not use a combustible container or one that might melt from the heat of the ashes or coals.

Do not place anything else combustible in the container.

Keep the container outside your home and away from any combustibles until it can be safely hauled away.