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Fire department issues tips to prevent chimney fires

A chimney fire is blamed for the destruction of this home in the North Otter area of Langley in October. The Township fire department has issued tips to help prevent such - Fred Trzaskowski/Special to The Times
A chimney fire is blamed for the destruction of this home in the North Otter area of Langley in October. The Township fire department has issued tips to help prevent such
— image credit: Fred Trzaskowski/Special to The Times

With the price of fuel soaring and winter on its way, some residents may be considering a less expensive, more old-fashioned way to keep warm in their homes: with burning wood.

And that has local officials concerned.

“I predict we will see more chimney fires as people turn to traditional heating methods, such as wood stoves and fire places, due to the increase in fuel costs,” said the Township’s assistant fire chief Pat Walker.

In October, fire crews were called to a blaze that started in a fireplace and nearly destroyed a home near 240 Street and 54 Avenue.

To help prevent such fires, Walker urges residents to keep their chimneys clean and clear by ensuring there are no branches or leaves near the top of the chimney and making sure the hearth area is clear. Having the chimney checked once a year and cleaned if necessary by a professional, certified chimney sweep reduces the risk of fires and carbon monoxide poisoning due to creosote build-up and obstructions.

Installing a chimney cap will keep debris and animals out of the chimney and a fireplace screen will catch flying sparks. When building a fire, use well-seasoned wood that has been split for at least six months and stored in a covered, elevated place.

Never burn a Christmas tree or treated wood in a fireplace or wood stove. Place the wood at the rear of the fireplace on a supporting grate and use kindling and a commercial fire lighter to start the fire. Do not use flammable liquid, and never leave a fire unattended. Be sure it is fully extinguished before turning in for the evening.

Walker also strongly recommends installing smoke and carbon monoxide detectors throughout the house. Check the batteries in the spring and in the fall, when you change your clocks for Daylight Savings Time.

If a fire does start in a chimney, the first indication is usually a noise — a roaring sound that grows louder as the fire’s intensity increases, and clouds of black smoke and sparks will be seen coming out of the top of the chimney.

In case of a chimney fire, call 911 to alert the fire department, close the fireplace or stove’s damper or primary air inlet control to limit the air supply and reduce the fire’s intensity, and evacuate the home.

For more information, contact the Township fire department at 604 532-7500.

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