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Hot ashes cause of south Forsyth propane fire
Propane fire
Division Chief Jason Shivers, spokesperson for the Forsyth County Fire Department said that firefighters responded to a home in south Forsyth late Friday night and found a shed engulfed in flames and an above ground 250-gallon propane tank dangerously close to the blaze. -Photo Ben Hendren

According to Forsyth County Fire Officials, a south Forsyth leaf litter fire started by hot ashes could have had catastrophic consequences without the quick intervention of fire crews.

Division Chief Jason Shivers, spokesperson for the Forsyth County Fire Department said that firefighters responded to a home in south Forsyth late Friday night and found a shed engulfed in flames and an above ground 250-gallon propane tank dangerously close to the blaze.

Shivers said that a resident of 3246 Glenn Wallace Drive had cleaned out a wood burning stove earlier in the day and had scattered the ashes in a garden area, thinking they were cold. Sometime later, he looked out his window and saw that flames from dry debris in his yard had spread to a wooden shed, built up against the home’s propane tank.   

Shivers stated that as the shed fire burned, it heated the steel propane tank and its contents to a boil. He said as the first fire engines arrived on scene; the tank released propane from its top, ignited on contact with flames coming off of the shed and shot a column of flames 40 feet into the air.

Shivers said that as the jet of flames burned, it caught part of an oak tree on fire and rained burning debris down onto the roof of the residence.

He said that fire crews quickly went to work extinguishing the fires and putting water on the propane tank to cool it down.

“No matter how much is in there, we have to treat it like it has the potential for a huge explosion,” he said. 

Shivers added that no one was injured in the incident, and no significant damage was caused to the residence.

He said that they see many incidents similar to this each year, when people misjudge how long ashes can stay hot.

“A pile of ashes will hold heat for days after a fire, and often enough there is enough heat in them to ignite.” he said.

He said that incidents like this can be avoided by wetting down ashes before spreading them and that all ashes should be stored in a steel bucket or container and placed on a non-combustible surface.