The Midwest Chimney Safety Council warns homeowners to avoid chimney fires during cold weather and winter storms. Recent chimney fires in the greater Kansas City area occurred due to lack of proper maintenance and over use of fireplaces and wood -burning stoves.
Over firing an appliance means that too much wood is used, causing overheating of the appliance and/or combustible materials nearby or built near the chimney, hidden by walls. Gene Padgitt, a chimney sweep and owner of HearthMasters, Inc, in Independence, Missouri said that he has been called to investigate chimney fire damages at several homes this past week. "Fireplaces are not heating appliances - they are meant for small ambient fires only. Overfiring of any type of wood-burning appliance can cause a chimney fire or house fire," said Padgitt.
The MCSC webiste suggests that homeowners have their fireplace flue swept and inspected by a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep annually, and twice during the burning season for a wood-stove used for primary heating purposes. Creosote accumulates on flue walls and must be removed or a chimney fire will result.
Chimney fires can cause expensive damages to the interior and exterior of chimneys. Some chimney fires escape the chimney and ignite nearby combustible framing near the chimney, causing a house fire.
The MCSC recommends that a smoke detector be placed on each level of the home.