Firefighters work on a garage fire Saturday night on North Whidbey. Photo provided by North Whidbey Fire and Rescue

Firefighters work on a garage fire Saturday night on North Whidbey. Photo provided by North Whidbey Fire and Rescue

Improperly stored ashes spark blaze in garage

Wood stove ashes in a cardboard box led to a large garage fire Saturday night on North Whidbey.

The two occupants and a dog got out of the house safely, according to North Whidbey Fire and Rescue Battalion Chief Chris Swiger. Fire crews from the North Whidbey and Naval Air Station Whidbey Island arrived at about 9:40 p.m. to find the garage fully engulfed in flames, smoke throughout the house and two of the neighboring home’s windows broken from the heat.

The homeowner had cleaned out her wood stove and stored the ashes in a box stacked atop other boxes in the garage, Swiger said. The ashes likely still had hot embers that ignited.

Flames didn’t extend into the home, but there was “significant” smoke damage, Swiger said.

North Whidbey Fire responded with two engines, two brush engines and one water tender as well as aid units and two command vehicles. The air station’s fire department assisted with one water tender and a commanding officer, according to a press release. Firefighters extinguished the blaze within about five minutes and had everything under control in about half an hour, Swiger said.

The neighboring home, which was located about six feet away, also sustained smoke damage. Red Cross responded to assist the homeowner and the residents next door.

Swiger recommends disposing of wood stove or fireplace ashes in a metal container and stored outside away from structures.

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