PROVIDENCE - The Department of Environmental Management is cautioning Rhode Islanders to be cautious when disposing of wood, coal stove, and fireplace ashes.
Mid-March through mid-May is the traditional spring fire period in Rhode Island, and state forest rangers note that the improper disposal of wood stove ashes is a frequent cause of grass and brushfires. According to Jay Aron, supervising forester with DEM's Division of Forest Environment, "Ashes should always first be put into a metal bucket. You may be surprised to learn that those ashes will still have some embers burning even after three or four days. Add water to the ashes, and stir them up," Aron adds, "and be sure to dump the ashes in an area that is not apt to ignite, such as bare soil."
"Even after a drizzle," he says, "it only takes an hour for grass to become dry enough to burn."
Residents wishing to burn brush outdoors must first receive a permit from their local fire district officials, Aron adds. Open burning, he notes, is banned in some communities, and limited in others to specific times and weather conditions.
DEM Division of Forest Environment forest rangers enforce state laws regulating illegal burning and provide planning and oversight for prescribed burning activities on state properties in cooperation with local fire chiefs. The State's forest rangers also participant in the Northeast Forest Fire Protection Compact and provide training and support in wild land fire suppression to local fire departments and regional crews.