Tragic Fire Highlights Fireplace Safety Issues05:08
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Firefighters are seen on the roof of a house where an early morning fire left five people dead Sunday, Dec. 25, 2011, in Stamford, Conn. (AP)
Firefighters are seen on the roof of a house where an early morning fire left five people dead Sunday, Dec. 25, 2011, in Stamford, Conn. (AP)

Five people — three young sisters and their maternal grandparents — were killed early Christmas morning when fire swept through their home in Stamford, Connecticut. The children's mother and a man described as a family friend survived. Officials say the fire started when embers from a fireplace were thrown in a bag.

That's raising the all-too-familiar topic of fire safety. Connecticut State Fire Marshall Robert Ross told Here & Now's Robin Young that there is a proper way to deal with the ash from a fire. He says that if you have a fireplace or wood-burning stove with a door that securely closes, you can leave the embers inside to safely cool down.

But if embers can't be safely secured, Ross recommends that the ash be removed by following these steps.

  • 1.) Remove the embers from the fireplace by putting them in a metal box, or a coal hob.
  • 2.) Soak the embers in water.
  • 3.) Put the metal box with the soaked embers somewhere outside, far from the home,or any other structures or flammable items.

Ross says that he has seen a lot of fires that started when people put ash out on the back porch, thinking it had cooled.

"When you're dealing with ash or embers, people can never make the assumption that the ash is fully out," he said.

He says that ash can stay warm for days, and that people should always take the above precautions, even if they think the ash has cooled.

Guest:

  • Robert Ross, State Fire Marshall, Connecticut

This segment aired on December 28, 2011.

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