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Chimney Fires

If you think you may have a chimney fire, dial 9-1-1.
Chimney fires can quickly become house fires.

What is a chimney fire?

A chimney fire is the combustion of creosote deposited inside the chimney from the burning of wood or bituminious coal.

Why are chimney fires dangerous?

Chimney fires are dangerous because if they are not extinguished promptly, they can easily cause a house fire.  In fact, many house fires start as chimney fires that spread into the home.

Can I put out a chimney fire myself?

While there are commercially available chimney fire extinguishers, the best course of action is to call your local fire department. The firefighters have the tools and experience to put the fire out safely while minimizing the damage to your chimney. They also have tools such as thermal imaging cameras to check to see if the fire has spread to walls, attics, and crawl spaces.

How will the fire department put out my chimney fire?

While it may have been a common practice at one point, firefighters will now only rarely use water to fight a contained chimney fire. The reason? Water can damage the chimney flue and, in some cases, ruin the chimney.  Fire departments often use dry chemical fire extinguishers coupled with positive pressure ventilation fans to force the suppressant up the flue or deploy ABC dry chem “bombs” down the flue from the roof.  Other fire departments use commercially made devices such as Chimfex® extinguishers.  It may also be necessary for firefighters to use weighted chains from the roof to dislodge the burning creosote from the side of the flue down into the clean-out for safe removal.  Once the chimney fire has been extinguished and firefighters have confirmed that the fire did not extend to other parts of the home, readings using a gas meter will be taken to make sure that the oxygen and carbon monoxide levels are safe.  All of these methods require specialized tools and training to avoid injury or further damage to the chimney.

After the chimney fire is extinguished, is it safe to use my stove?

You must have your chimney inspected and cleaned by a qualified professional before using it again.  Chimney flues, especially in older homes, are very susceptible to the high heat of chimney fires (2,000°F+) and may suffer failure of the tiles and mortar. Using the fireplace or stove could result in another chimney fire or dangerous gases such as carbon monoxide escaping through these cracks into the living space of the home.

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