La Pine house fire traced to ash bucket

Investigators say they were left in plastic bucket

La PINE, Ore. - A fire that seriously damaged a La Pine-area home Friday afternoon apparently was caused by a plastic bucket full of 3-day-old woodstove ashes that melted and caught the living room on fire, authorities said.

The owners of the home at 51991 Ponderosa Way arrived home from a three-hour trip into town shortly after 2 p.m. and encountered heavy smoke when they tried to go inside, the ran to a neighbor's house to call 911, said Capt. Gary Young of the La Pine Rural Fire Protection District.

They told dispatchers there were no pets or other occupants in the home, Young said, and no injuries were reported.

Firefighters arrived to find smoke pouring from the front door of the two-story, 1,600-square-foot home.

Young said crews entered and found a first-floor blaze, with flames extending up the stairwell and into the second story. They were able to ventilate the home and knocked the fire down in about 20 minutes.

The blaze left the home with moderate to severe heat and smoke damage, he said.

An investigation found the homeowner had cleaned out the woodstove three days earlier and left the plastic bucket full of ashes in the living room, Young said. The bucket apparently melted and caught the carpet and other surrounding combustibles on fire.

The home was insured, Young said. The American Red Cross said it dispatched a volunteer assistance team to help the two adults with food, clothing, comfort kits and information about other services.

Young reminded residents to store woodstove or fireplace ashes in a metal, non-combustible can for at least a week before disposing of them outdoors.

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