Tips for Preventing Chimney Fires This Winter

The Hearth Is the Home — Don’t Let it Burn Your House Down

Perhaps you’ve decorated your fireplace mantel for the holidays. Maybe you will stuff stockings in preparation for the holiday season. However, you celebrate the holidays; if you have a fireplace, you are most likely taking advantage of it this month.

And while a fireplace is an inviting area to gather — it’s warm, welcoming and, for many, the heart of the home — it can also destroy a house if not taken care of properly.

Neglected chimneys and flues cause more than 25,000 fires, thousands of injuries and many deaths each year in the U.S. Liners in the chimney or structural problems can allow high temperatures, sparks and embers to escape to walls, roofs or attics — combustible areas that can cause a house to burn to the ground in a matter of minutes. Also contributing to fires is Creosote, a byproduct of burning that coats the inside of the chimney and can catch fire and burn inside a chimney. The problem with chimney fires is they are not always that easy to detect before they can wreak havoc on a home.

Two different types of chimney fires, which both can cause substantial damage to your chimney and potentially your home, are:

  • Free Burning – These are the fires that sound like a freight train is tunneling through your chimney. The blaze is loud and unmistakable. Often dramatic flames or billowing smoke may lap out of your chimney top. Neighbors might notice and comment.
  • Slow Burning – This quieter version of a chimney fire is no less dangerous. You may not even know it has taken place. These undetected fires burn slowly and at high temperatures which cause more than just structural damage to your chimney; they can quickly catch flammable parts of your home on fire as well.

How to Prevent a Chimney Fire

  • Only burn seasoned or dried out wood – Wood that is completely dry will sound hollow when hit against another piece of wood, it will be dark in color and may have cracks in the ends. It takes about six months for wood to be ready to burn.
  • Start fires with clean newspaper or dry kindling – Gasoline or kerosene should never be used to start a fire.
  • Never burn cardboard boxes, wrapping paper or your Christmas tree.
  • Burn large logs, rather than many smaller logs when possible.
  • Get regular chimney inspections and cleanings – This helps you make sure to remove the excess creosote from the chimney walls and ensure safe burning.

Chimney fires are a dangerous problem to experience first-hand, but the good news is that they are also entirely preventable. It is essential always to take care to burn only the materials that are meant to be burnt and not use ones that could harm the chimney. This is crucial to keeping your chimney in a safe and working condition. While using the correct fuel is essential, a chimney fire can still occur even with these precautionary measures in place. This is why annual chimney inspections and cleanings are another critical part of home maintenance.

Don't wait until it is too late. Take precautions now to make sure you have a clean, safe chimney system.

For a listing of chimney sweeps in the Wisconsin area, visit:

Call Casey Law Offices if You Have Experienced a Fire Due to the Negligence of Another Party

At Casey Law Offices, S.C., we care about your safety and wellbeing at all times, and we are prepared to help you make things right if you have experienced a home fire as a result of the negligence of another person or entity. Your home or chimney fire could potentially be a result of construction, the brand of firewood purchased, or the unsafe burning practices of a neighbor or other nearby party. Connect with a personal injury lawyer today to schedule your free consultation.

Call (414) 272-5564 now to speak to a member of our team right away.

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