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How to Safely Dispose of Fireplace Ashes

Burning a Yule log this holiday season? Here are some tips for safely cleaning out your fireplace or woodstove.

If you're getting cozy around a fire in your fireplace or woodstove this holiday season, make sure you know what to do when the fire goes out and it's time to clean up those ashes.

The most important thing to remember? Never put ashes in a paper or plastic bag, cardboard box or plastic bucket. 

“Embers, often concealed in what appears to be cold ashes, can remain hot enough to rekindle a fire for several days,” said Montgomery County Fire Chief Richard Bowers in a statement released by the county.

The Department of Environmental Protection recommends only placing ashes out for collection with regular household trash if they have been thoroughly soaked with water in a metal ash bucket with a tight-fitting metal lid.

Any container holding ashes should be stored outside, away from structures, decks, fences, wood piles or other combustible materials. Ashes retain enough heat to ignite other combustible materials for several days after a fire. And be careful on windy days, since the wind can reignite embers.

Two other tips to remember: never use a vacuum cleaner to pick up ashes and always have working smoke alarms on every level of the home and test them monthly.

Cooled ashes may be brought to the Shady Grove Road Processing Facility and Transfer Station for disposal in specifically-designated ash containers. The Transfer Station is located at 16101 Frederick Rd., Derwood (off Rt. 355 at Shady Grove Rd.).

When delivering ash, residents are asked to use the Frederick Rd. (Rt. 355) entrance just south of Shady Grove Rd. The Transfer Station's Public Unloading Facility (PUF) -- also called the "Car Ramp" -- has several steel drums marked specifically for ash disposal. The drums are located between trash drop-off bays.

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