LEWISTON — Hot ashes from a backyard campfire were the cause of a fire that destroyed a three-car garage and damaged to the exterior of a house at 82 Prospect Ave. Monday night, an investigator said Tuesday.

Fire Inspector Paul Ouellette said a man put the ashes from a Sunday night campfire in a metal can that night and transferred the ashes to a plastic garbage can Monday night, believing the ashes had cooled to the point that they could no longer ignite flammable materials.

He stored that trash can in a garage. The ashes ignited the trash can and set the garage on fire, burning a Toyota SUV. Total damage was estimated at $80,000.

The home belongs to Ronnie Paradis, widow of former Lewiston Councilor Mark Paradis.

Neighbors heard two explosions that were followed by flames that quickly consumed the garage. The blaze melted vinyl siding on a corner of the detached home.

Lewiston firefighters arrived quickly, knocking down the fire and saving the  house.

Ouellette said ashes require a minimum of 48 hours to cool and should be hosed down. Containers should not be stored in or near structures, he said. The city dump won’t take ashes that have not sat dormant for less than a month, he said.

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