A Jarrettsville home was extensively damaged in a two-alarm fire caused by discarded ashes early Monday morning, state fire investigators said.
No one was injured, but a family of three was displaced after fire broke out at the single-family home, in the 3800 block of Federal Hill Road (Route 165), at 7:41 a.m., according to a notice of investigation from the Maryland State Fire Marshal's Office.
The fire caused damage estimated at $375,000 to the home and its contents, according to fire officials.
"It's a total loss," Jarrettsville Volunteer Fire Company deputy chief Ben Kurtz said.
"As I was coming down, we had flames through the roof already," he said. "I hit the second alarm right away."
It took 80 firefighters about 90 minutes to control the fire.
Firefighters from Jarrettsville, Fallston, Whiteford and Bel Air volunteer fire companies responded, as did firefighters from Hereford and Jacksonville in Baltimore County and in Fawn Grove and Delta-Cardiff companies in Pennsylvania.
"The home is seriously damaged and not able to be occupied," Harford County Volunteer Fire & EMS Association spokesman Rich Gardiner said.
The property owner discovered the fire, which was caused by a bucket of discarded fireplace ashes outside the back of the house, according to preliminary findings in the notice of investigation.
The ashes were in a plastic bucket, Kurtz said.
"It was against the wall on the outside of the house and you can just see the burn pattern," he said.
The family had just gotten a new smoke detector, he said.
"That's what awoke them," he said.
It was the second fire in the county in a week to be caused by ashes, Kurtz noted, citing last Wednesday's fire in the 3000 block of Bellechase Road in Fallston that started in a garage and was brought under control before doing more damage.
"Unfortunately people make the assumption that just because they haven't used the fireplace or the wood stove, the ashes, they think, are out," Kurtz said.
"In this [Jarrettsville] example, they said it had been five or three days since they had cleaned out their wood stove," he said. "People just need to please, please take your ashes away from your house."
Route 165 was closed between Nelson Mill Road and Crossgate Road while the fire was being controlled and investigated.