Several Chimney Fires
This spring the Sheridan Fire District has responded on several chimney fires. We expect to see chimney fires in the late fall and winter as people begin to start using their wood and pellet stoves to heat their homes and shops. Nothing can be more devastating than losing your home/property and most importantly your memories (pictures, awards, letters, childhood drawings and family heirlooms).
The Fire District recommends having your chimney, fireplaces and stoves cleaned thoroughly each fall before you start using it and again when spring comes. Whether you choose to clean your chimney and stove/fireplace yourself or have someone come in and do it is important not only to prevent fires but to improve the efficiency of the devices and prevent the smoke and toxic gases from filling your home.
The Fire District also encourages home owners to have their fireplace/stoves and chimneys inspected annually and if needed professionally cleaned. Pellet stoves are of a special concern since they have many moving parts and require a more thorough cleaning to function properly. Any time the stove, chimney pipe or the surrounding material are subjected to higher than normal temperatures, often due to improper or lack of cleaning) there is a risk of damage. Frequent exposure to high temperatures weaken the chimney itself and any nearby materials in the attic and roof will dry out and become easier to catch on fire. This is of major concern since the attic space is not typically occupied and has no smoke or fire detectors in it so fires in the attic can go unnoticed until it is too late. This is the same reason why we are highly recommending the chimney and stove are inspected after a chimney fire to ensure that it is safe to use it again and to ensure no hidden damage has been done.
What you burn in your fireplace or stove can also lead to issues and put your home and your family at risk. A wood stove is designed to burn untreated/processed wood just like pellet stoves are designed to only burn pellets. When you burn cardboard, paper, plastics, treated wood, furniture, or other materials not designed for your stove you increase the amount of soot and the produce gas and heat at a higher rate. The excess soot in combination with a dirty chimney pipe and more heat sets up your chimney for the immediate and future risk of having a chimney fire.
While most chimney fires don’t result in house being burned to the ground they can cause significant damage to the attic, roof and the chimney itself. They also can cause attic fires in the future. Even having high heat fires (caused by soot buildup in the chimney and burning improper materials) can lead to attic fires and as a result losing your home, memories and even take someone’s life.
Again we want to encourage everyone to clean their chimney, fireplaces and stoves at the beginning and end of the cold weather, have them inspected annually and any time you have suffered a chimney fire. It is important to only burn what is intended to be burned in your fireplace or stove. The safety of our community’s families is the number one priority of the Fire District and we want to encourage anyone with any questions or concerns to come visit with us.
Below is a link to another resource on preventing Chimney fires.