Three days after burning down to embers in a stove, ashes remained hot enough to start a brush fire in Star Valley on Saturday.
About 7:30 p.m., firefighters learned a small fire had started in Horton Creek, just 400 feet north of Highway 260 off Cornerstone Way.
Crews contained the fire to a 12-foot-by-4-foot area, keeping it out of a vacant lot covered in dry weeds, said Gary Hatch, Hellsgate fire chief.
Residents claimed they had set the ashes out for three days to cool off before dumping them.
“Just shows how little heat can start a fire,” Hatch said. “Conditions are as dry as I have seen in 32 years.”
Normally, Payson gets 2.3 inches of rain or snow in January, but so far this month the region hasn’t gotten a measurable drop. Fire crews are already bracing for the early start of a frightening fire season, although normally conditions don’t get really dangerous until May or June.
The short-term forecast from the National Weather Service only shows a slight chance for rain Thursday night.
Officials say residents should always allow ashes to cool before disposing of them. To do so, place ashes in a tightly covered metal container and keep the container at least 10 feet away from your home and any other nearby buildings. Never empty the ash directly into a trash can. Douse and saturate the ashes with water.