Fireplace ashes in plastic bucket, left in garage, caused $200,000 blaze

Metal bucket with tight lid necessary, and take it outside, says fire marshal

By John Branton, Columbian Staff Reporter

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The cause of a two-alarm fire that caused extensive damage to a house south of Battle Ground on Wednesday morning was fireplace ashes left in a plastic bucket in the garage, an official said.

The fire was reported just before 11 a.m. at 20210 N.E. 104th Ave. in the Winterlake subdivision, near the Meadow Glade neighborhood. Residents were in the home when the fire started but were not injured, neighbors said.

Engine 27 from Clark County Fire & Rescue was the first unit on the scene. Firefighters found fire in the garage and second floor of the home, said Battalion Chief Tim Dawdy, Clark County Fire & Rescue spokesman. The fire was “burning vigorously” and spread into the attic, he said.

Assistant Fire Marshal Richard Martin said Thursday evening that someone had placed fireplace ashes in a plastic bucket and left it on a piece of carpet similar to a floor mat.

The carpet caught fire and flames spread in the garage. The heat weakened the springs of a pull-down stairway to the attic, allowing it to open. Flames then flared up into the attic. Damage is estimated at least $200,000.

Fireplace ash must be placed in a metal bucket, preferably one with a tight-fitting lid. It then must be taken outside and left to cool where no combustibles are near, Martin said.