MONTEREY COUNTY, Calif. -

There has been an increase in vegetation fires in Monterey and San Benito counties and Cal Fire says it is because people are not throwing away the ashes from their fireplaces properly.

With the cooler temperatures and shorter days of winter, more people are using their fireplaces. However, when you mix in a severe lack of rain, it creates a fire hazard.

Over the past month, San Benito and Monterey counties have had 6 vegetation fires due to improper ash disposal.

Proper ash disposal tips:

  • When cleaning your fireplace or woodstove, always place your ashes in a metal container. Never use a paper or plastic bag, or a cardboard box.
  • Put the metal container outside and immediately pour water into the can to cool any hot embers. Coals or pieces of wood can smolder for days.
  • Stir the water into the ashes with a stick, making sure everything is cold.
  • Cover the container with a lid and store the metal container away from flammable materials.
  • If you vacuum your ashes, it is critical that you use an appropriate “ash vacuum” specially designed to hold hot and cold embers. Never use a regular home vacuum.
  • Never place ashes in your garbage can.

For more ways to prepare and prevent wildfires visit www.ReadyForWildfire.org or www.fire.ca.gov.