Monday, January 12, 2009


LaGrange – Firefighters in LaGrange were called to a home on Route 301 late Sunday afternoon after homeowners discovered smoke filling the house.

Chief James Rader of LaGrange Fire & Rescue said that the homeowners had placed pieces of cardboard in their wood-burning stove – that, according to Rader, is a very bad idea. “As cardboard burns it kind of flakes off and that gets wider and cardboard burns faster so you get a quick amount of heat out of it which causes a draft – and since it’s lighter it gets sucked up into the chimney and if there is any Creosote up there it helps ignite it.”

Rader said Firefighters emptied the wood burner of the remaining cardboard and wood then they set off a chimney flare to extinguish the remaining fire.

Chief Rader said that this chimney fire makes the second for this year already and the cold arctic air is just now knocking on our door. Rader suggests that people maintain their fireplaces and wood burning stoves and says that your chimney should be inspected and cleaned at least once a year. Burning dry, seasoned wood is also very important. Fresh cut wood has a lot of moisture still in it making it to burn dirty which causes the Creosote build up.

Some other tips on chimney safety:
Check the exterior chimney brickwork from the top to bottom to make sure there is no evidence of white chalky deposits, moisture, cracking or loose mortar.

The clean-out pit at the base of the chimney should be emptied each year. The contents of the pit should be inspected to determine if bits of mortar, brick or stone are present. Evidence of debris could indicate the chimney is starting to deteriorate. The clean-out pit could be either inside or outside the house. It could be either a metal frame with a door, a metal sleeve with a cap, or "Y" or "T" fitting with cap installed at the chimney connection for the furnace vent. This clean-out door should always be closed or capped in place.

By proper angling of a mirror within your cleanout pit, you should have an unobstructed view up the chimney. Make sure there is no visual evidence of obstruction. Some chimneys are "off-set" and do not allow for proper viewing. If this is the case it might be necessary to call a chimney expert.

The flue pipe, which connects the appliance, should be checked for corrosion, deterioration or structural defects. Check all connections and fittings for tightness. White or rust discoloration may indicate internal corrosion. Some chimneys have separate flues for appliances and fireplaces.


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