Annual cleaning of chimneys can help prevent chimney fires, potentially saving lives and homes.
People often dismiss maintaining fireplaces, wood burning stoves, pellet stoves and propane stoves, a press release from the Amador-El Dorado Unit of Cal Fire stated, under the assumption that they will work with no problems when needed.
But fires originating in chimneys or chimney flues account for almost 56 percent of residential fires nationwide, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. The majority of the fires occur when use is highest — winter months between 5 and 9 p.m.
What can be done to prevent chimney fires? The National Fire Protection Association and Cal Fire provide three ways to help combat fires.
First, have the chimney professionally cleaned. A professional with proper training will check the entire system, from roof to stove, ensuring the pipe is properly installed and not deteriorating. Cleaning and repairs are also done.
Second, ensure proper maintenance. Fires can start from built-up creosote in pipes, which can then spread to the roof. Deterioration of stoves can lead to surrounding materials catching fire, and the blaze spreading from there.
Finally, if a fireplace is not used often, animals may nest in the chimney. Smoke will not properly vent and nests will catch fire, which can then spread.
“Fire prevention is everyone’s responsibility. We are here to serve the public 24/7, but we can’t be everywhere all the time. You must be part of the equation, our partners in fire and life safety,” AEU Cal Fire Unit Chief Kelly Keenan said in the press release.
More information can be found at fire.ca.gov or by calling Cal Fire at 530-644-2345. Free brochures are also available.