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Fire destroys SW Bend home; cause found to be improper disposal of woodstove ashes

(Update: Bend Fire says woodstove ashes sparked blaze; safety tips offered)

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) – A fire that destroyed a southwest Bend home Wednesday morning while the residents were away was found to have been caused by improper disposal of woodstove ashes, officials said.

The fire was reported by neighbors shortly after 8:30 a.m. in the 19700 block of Opal Avenue, and crews arrived to find the home engulfed in flames, as well as the back deck, Deputy Fire Marshal Dan Derlacki sad. The family dog was found safe outside when crews arrived.

The house is considered a complete loss, with nearly $100,000 in damage to the building and contents, Derlacki said.

No injuries were reported.

Fire investigators on scene determined it was caused by the improper disposal of woodstove ashes, Derlacki said. Ashes were placed into a paper bag next to the stove. The bag ignited, and the fire spread to the adjacent furniture and carpeting. 

The Sunriver Fire Department also responded to the scene, while Redmond Fire & Rescue provided an engine to help cover the city until the fire was controlled, Derlacki said.

The displaced family declined an offer of American Red Cross disaster assistance and made other arrangements, officials said.

"As we head into winter and woodstove season, Bend Fire Department wants to remind everyone to ensure they are using, cleaning and maintaining their woodstoves properly to prevent more fires like this," Derlacki said.

"Ash is a great insulator and can stay hot for days after the last fire. For that reason, the best way to dispose of ash is to place it into a non-combustible container with a tight fitting lid such as a metal bucket. The bucket should be stored away from combustibles until the ash is cold to the touch. At that point, the ash can be discarded into a trash can or spread on the ground.

"Metal buckets with lids can be purchased at most home improvement/hardware stores or woodstove retailer. The tight fitting lid keeps the ash from igniting anything and prevents carbon monoxide from releasing into the house from the hot ash," he added. 

Derlacki also said, "Make sure you have working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in your house, whether you use a woodstove or not. Working alarms more than double your family's chance of surviving a fire in your home."

More safety information about woodstoves and heating appliances can be found on Bend Fire's website, at:

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