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Smouldering ash sparks fire in Teesdale
Earlier in the month, a Teesdale family had a timely reminder about the importance of properly disposing of ashes from their fire place, when their deck caught fire after ash discarded several days earlier reignited.
On the evening of Friday 4 August, CFA crews from Teesdale and Bannockburn were called to a structural incident on Bannockburn- Shelford Road, after a thoughtful and concerned passer by did a U-turn to investigate what he thought were flames, and called Triple Zero.
Responding to beckoning of pagers at 11:57, Crews arrived on scene relieved that the potential for this incident had been curtailed.
First reports suggested the front decking was well alight and threatening the house. Thankfully, on scene, the fire had been contained by the home occupant, assisted by the passer-by.
A fire investigation into the cause, found that a discarded emptied bucket of ash from the fireplace three days earlier, had smouldered undetected in leaves close to the deck, eventually igniting.
Teesdale Fire Brigade Captain Robert Galtry said the residents were extremely fortunate the fire had not spread any further before it was detected by an observant late night motorist.
“Many people would be surprised that a fire could reignite after three days, however perfect conditions for ignition are heat, fuel and oxygen.
“Discarded coals and ashes from the fire provided the heat, the dry leaves and wooden stumps added fuel and the wind created the draft, ideal conditions for fire.
“This situation is a timely reminder that safety with fire can never be underestimated or understated.
When disposing of ash and coals from your fireplace it is best that they be put into a metal bucket and placed on a concrete or paved area away from the house, and confirmed to be fully extinguished before they are discarded into the garden or compost.
“Make sure you discard ash and coals well away from any structures and always wet down with a hose or bucket of water even if they seem cool to touch,” he said.
“If it had not been for the astute observation and actions of the passing motorist, this callout may have been an incident ending in real tragedy.
“Not to be ignored events like this can cause considerable ongoing emotional distress, and financial difficulty for those involved.”
The fire was called under control at 12.10 in the morning (5 August), mopping up and securing of the scene took a while longer.