Williamson Fire-Rescue volunteer firefighters have responded to three fireplace-related house fires in Williamson County over the last thirty days. There were no injuries from these fires, but each fire caused significant structural damage.
“These fires could have been prevented with proper maintenance of the chimney,” says Williamson County Fire Coordinator Jay Bonson. “When we see an uptick in house fires that have a common cause, we are reminded of how important it is that we continue to communicate fire safety to our community.”
According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America, slow-burning chimney fires are not distinctly visible and can go undetected until a later chimney inspection. However, they can reach high temperatures that cause damage to the chimney structure and nearby combustible parts of the house.
Indications of a chimney fire include:
• Loud cracking, popping and rumbling noises
• Dense smoke
• Hot smell
• Shooting or explosive flames
It is critical to call 9-1-1 immediately if you believe you might have a chimney fire so that first responders can quickly extinguish the fire and prevent it from spreading to the rest of the home.
“Often, residents try to put out the fire themselves before calling 9-1-1,” Bonson states. “By the time responders arrive, the fire has already spread and caused substantial damage to the home.”
Outdoor and indoor chimneys and fireplaces should be inspected at least once a year and cleaned as necessary, based on frequency of use and the buildup of combustible residues such as creosote.
For more information on chimney fire prevention, visit https://www.csia.org/chimneyfires.html