Henrico Fire stresses safety after hot ashes ignite near gas meter, melting siding off of home

Henrico County

HENRICO COUNTY, Va (WRIC) – A family was forced out of their home after the side of the house went up in flames near their gas meter Monday. Now, the Henrico County Fire Department has a message of safety, especially with holiday decorating season in full swing.

The department said the fire started when ashes from a fire pit burned the night before were put on the ground, but the family didn’t realize, those ashes hadn’t completely cooled off yet.

Photos from the fire department show siding melting off of the house after those hot ashes were tossed on the ground and ignited.

“I had been smelling smoke all day,” said Kathryn Jones, who lives near the house that caught on fire. “It’s kind of scary as an afterthought that it could’ve flown over here and caught me on fire.”

Henrico Fire worked with city gas to cut off gas lines after the fire started right next to the gas meter.

“The fire engines were just all over the place,” Jones said, as she described the scene Monday.

It’s one of several house fires Henrico Fire battalion chief Doug Reynolds said every area department has extinguished.

“I tell you, it’s been a big year for the RVA area for fires,” he said during in an interview Tuesday.

Reynolds said people shouldn’t put hot ashes in a box, paper bag or near a wooded area. He suggested dropping them in an open space, possibly on gravel, and using a garden hose to make sure the ashes are completely out and cooled off. Reynolds added ashes have the ability to stay hot for days.

With many people pulling decorations from the attic this time of year, Reynolds recommends that people check them to be safe.

“These lights have been up there in the cold and the heat, so inspect each strand of lights. Make sure that the wires look good, there are no broken bulbs,” he said.

Reynolds also said it’s important not to overfill extension cords with multiple wires.

“Any time we talk about electrical fires, more times than not there’s an extension cord involved,” he said.

The family and the firefighters who responded were not hurt in the fire.

The fire department told 8News the gas meter didn’t catch on fire thanks to a safety mechanism built into it that allows it to release gas if it is exposed to high temperatures.

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