Smoldering Ashes Spark Fire

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Fierce winds and fireplace ashes sparked a shed fire in Strawberry Thursday night that threatened a home and two people.


Mike Larkins' dog, a blue tick-hound mix, alerted him to the fire shortly after 7 p.m. with insistent barking.


"After a while it was, 'What the heck is wrong with him?'" Larkins said.


Larkins went outside to investigate and found his shed engulfed in flames.


"I poked my head back in the door and yelled at my roommate (Rae Harris) to call 911 and I got my hose going," he said.


Larkins hosed down the perimeter of the fire and nearby trees while waiting for the Pine-Strawberry Fire Department to arrive.


It took firefighters about 15 minutes to douse the blaze with foam, stopping the fire before it spread six feet to the back deck of Larkins' rented trailer.


"(If it got to the deck) then the trailer would have been gone," he said.


Wood stove ashes in an earthen pit five feet from the shed were fanned by strong winds and started the fire, Pine-Strawberry Fire Marshall John Varljen said.


"Ashes can flare up after a week," Varljen said Monday. "In a time when we have not seen rain for 96 days, ashes should be doused with water."


Larkins said he takes care to dispose of his ashes safely.


"I keep two metal buckets inside sitting on brick behind the wood stove and they will sit there for a day or two," he said. "Then I have a pit dug in the back and I dump them there. I am very cautious that there are not hot coals smoldering there but, you never know, I guess."


In addition to the shed, Larkins lost a few hundred dollars in miscellaneous car parts, but he considers himself lucky.


"I didn't get burned out," he said.

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