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NEWS RELEASE 12/06/09: Improperly Installed Fireplace Causes House Fire

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Portland Fire and Rescue (PF&R) recently responded to two residential house fires that involved fireplaces.  One of those fires was caused by improper fireplace installation.

At 2:57 am on December 6, 2009, PF&R responded to a residential fire on SE 158th Avenue.  When fire crews arrived at 3:02 am, they found fire in the attic near the chimney and under the fireplace insert. Fire crews quickly extinguished the fire and the fire was under control at 3:32 am. Wood frame members being exposed to the chimney and fireplace insert heat over a long period of time was the origin of this fire.

At 11:37 am, PF&R responded to a residential fire on SE Long Street.  When fire crews arrived at 11:40 am, they found a small fire in the crawl space near the fireplace.  Fire crews quickly extinguished the fire with a water extinguisher and the fire was under control at 11:46 am.  The origin of this fire was caused by an improperly installed woodstove.

Both fires were deemed accidental.

The weather has gotten very cold and citizens may be looking for more economical ways of heating their homes.  While a wood-burning fireplace maybe a good option, the fireplace, fireplace insert, and/or woodstove must be installed following the manufacturer's recommended installation specifications.  The best option is to have a professional install the fireplace.

Fireplaces can produce both high levels of heat and sustained heat for a long period of time that can cause wood frame members to ignite.  In the case of the second residential fire, the wood floor was too close to the bottom of the woodstove and caused the wood to first char and then ignite over a long period of time.  The other safety concern is that all chimneys need to be cleaned on a regular basis.  Chimney fires can cause attic fires due to the high level of heat coming off the chimney near wood frame members in the attic.

Click here for simple tips from PF&R's Assistant Fire Marshal Doug Jones on how to safety heat using alternative heating sources in your home (chimney, wood, coal, and pellet stoves).

December 6, 2009

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