"It was caused by ashes from the fireplace that were placed outside the house," he said. "We didn't have a whole lot of snow on the ground. The ashes had been taken outside and the fire actually started outside the house." The ashes caught fire and then caught the siding of the house on fire.
"It traveled up the siding, gained entry into the attic, went across the attic and down into the first floor," said Boeckel.
Bill and Jenni Ward were living in the home, and managed to get out safely, along with their dog. Boeckel said the call came in at 11:27 p.m. Wednesday night for the fire, and firefighters were on the scene within 15 to 20 minutes. Everybody finally left the scene at 3:44 a.m. Thursday.
While the walls of the house are still standing, Boeckel said the house is "pretty well gutted. From outside it doesn't look that bad, but inside there was a lot of wood paneling, and the heat from the fire in attic ignited the walls."
Boeckel said the Wards were able to salvage a few items from the house, some clothes and photo albums that were inside a cabinet, but they did receive water damage.
Boeckel's advice for those with wood burning stoves or fireplaces to put ashes in a metal container with a lid.
"Even with no fire in the fireplace for a couple days, they still have hot coals," said Boeckel. "Coals in hot ash don't get enough oxygen to burn with a flame. They sit there and smolder and stay hot for days, up to a week depending on how hot and deep the ash is.