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DEM Urges Caution When Disposing of Ashes. Improper Disposal of Ashes is a Frequent Cause of Wildfires

PROVIDENCE The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) is urging Rhode Islanders to exercise care when disposing of wood, coal stove, and fireplace ashes.

Mild weather and lack of snow cover has meant an earlier-than-usual start of brush fire season. State forest rangers note that the improper disposal of wood stove ashes is a frequent cause of wildfires during this season.

"Ashes can hold hot embers for several days. If these ashes are thrown into the woods on your property, they can start a brush fire when receptive fuels such as grass and leaf litter dry out," said Ben Arnold, principal forest ranger with DEM's Division of Forest Environment. "Ashes should first be put into a metal ash can, where they can be thoroughly mixed with water before being disposed in an area that is not apt to ignite, such as bare soil."

DEM's Division of Forest Environment has produced helpful safety videos on proper ash disposal and safe open burning. These videos can be found on the Wildland Fire Control Facebook page.

Residents wishing to burn brush and yard debris outdoors must receive a permit from their local fire district officials. Open burning is banned in some communities and limited in others to specific times and weather conditions.

DEM 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 and forest management contractors. The State's forest rangers also participate in the Northeast Forest Fire Protection Compact and provide training and support in wildland fire suppression to local fire departments and regional crews.

For more information on DEM programs and initiatives, visit Follow us on Facebook at or on Twitter (@RhodeIslandDEM) for timely updates.

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  • Department or agency: Department of Environmental Management
  • Online:
  • Release date: 02-21-2020

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