A recent blaze that tore through a Murrieta home caused by a chimney has prompted fire officials to make people aware of the hazards associated with chimneys.
The fire was made all the more tragic as it displaced a family a few days before Thanksgiving.
Murrieta Fire Department Captain Matt Shobert noted, “Chimney fires are responsible for upwards of 26,000 residential fires per year, resulting in more than $128 million in property damage across the nation.”
Shobert added a few tell-tale signs indicating a chimney fire are:
- Loud cracking and popping noise.
- Large amounts of of dense smoke.
- An intense or hot smell.
Chimney fires can burn explosively or they can smolder for days charring the internal rafters above the ceiling and below the roofline.
“As the homes with fireplaces in our community age, the potential for a chimney fire increases for many reasons,” Shobert explained.
He added that due in part to the abundance of chimneys in and around the Southwest Riverside County, it is important to be aware of contributing factors when it comes to chimney sparked fires:
- There is no consistency in the quality of firewood being burned in fireplaces.
- Routine cleaning and maintenance of the fireplace and flue may not be occurring.
- Some residents burn wood in “gas only” fire places.
People reportedly burn cardboard boxes, wrapping paper and other discarded holiday items in the fireplace this time of year.
“It’s too easy for a flaming piece of paper to waft up the chimney and catch things on fire,” Shobert warned.
Officials advise that having a chimney inspected and cleaned annually can help prevent disaster.
“Nothing can completely prevent the creation of creosote (a combustible product of burning that builds up in the chimney). However, a certified chimney sweep can keep the problem from getting out of hand,” Shobert said.