Recently a Connecticut home was heavily damaged by fire caused by improper disposal of fireplace ashes. I don't know the exact circumstances surrounding this particular case; however, after last years tragic Christmas Day fire in Stamford in which five people lost their lives, I would have hoped people would be more careful.
Most homeowners don't realize that fireplace ashes can insulate and contain hot embers for several days after the fire dies down -- that is why it is so important to use metal container with an air-tight lid for disposal -- even days after the last flame is out.
Actually the best thing is to just leave them in the fireplace -- they are not doing any harm there. It is also important to educate service providers as many of these fires have been caused by housekeepers/caretakers who believe they're trying to help.
This is also a good opportunity to remind residents of the importance of having properly installed and operating smoke and carbon monoxide detectors throughout your home.
If you have questions regarding proper locations for detectors or anything else, please call the New Canaan Fire Marshal's Office at 203-594-3030.