The weather in Portland this past week has been unusually cold, and I would imagine a record number of people are lighting fires in woodstoves and fireplaces to ward off the chill.
While reading yesterday's Oregonian, I came across an article that detailed a chimney fire that happened on Tuesday in Gresham when a blaze ignited in the chimney of a wood-burning fireplace. Fortunately, there were no injuries, but damage is estimated at $50,000. According to Gresham's Deputy Fire Chief, Jim Klum, the fire started because creosote buildup had not been cleaned from the chimney.
Creosote comes from burning wood without enough air for the fire, and it is a black, shiny, tar-like substance that can coat the inside of stoves, smoke pipes and chimneys. Even a half-inch buildup can be dangerous. Creosote is what burns in the stove system during a chimney fire. Stoves and chimney connectors can become red hot in a chimney fire and flaming embers may also blow out the top of the chimney and potentially cause a roof fire.
Help keep your home and family safe this winter by following these tips:
- To help prevent creosote, burn the stove with the draft fully open at least once a day
- The chimney and chimney connector must be cleaned with stiff wire chimney brushes and scrapers at least once a year
- Some systems may need to be cleaned more often
- If you are unsure of the condition of creosote in your chimney, or do not feel qualified to do the cleaning yourself, a professional chimney sweep may be your best choice. As always check references and the Better Business Bureau.
Customer Service Manager