Help identifying what this could be.

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New Member
Oct 20, 2022
North carolina

I was recently looking at my basement fireplace and I'm trying to figure out that the opening in the front of my inner hearth. I know the rear opening is the ash dump. But the front one goes into channel about 4" in diameter following the red line in the picture. Could this be some sort of air intake? The other end of the channel goes into the same room as the ash dump door.

Thank you