North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service attends around 275 chimney fires every year, with the winter months being the busiest due to the cold weather.
This section includes information on preventing chimney fires and what to do if one occurs.
Why they happen
When a fire is lit flammable deposits build up in the chimney and flue. If these are allowed to accumulate the heat from a fire can cause them to ignite, causing a chimney fire.
How to tell if your chimney is on fire
A roaring noise will often be heard coming from the bottom of the chimney, especially from an open fire. Burning embers may fall down the chimney into the hearth. Sparks or flames may be rising out of the top of the chimney.
What to do
Bring everyone in the house to the ground floor and be ready to leave the house. Call the Fire Service by dialling 999. Move furniture and carpets away from the fireplace, if safe to do so. Close down all ventilation to the fireplace and keep doors and windows closed.
What not to do
Do not attempt to put out the fire with buckets of water, and do not pour salt on the fire – this can create chlorine gas, which is damaging to the chimney and toxic when inhaled.
Preventing chimney fires
Regular cleaning of chimneys and flues reduces the risk of dangerous fumes entering the home and eliminates the build up of soot from coal, wood, oil and gas fired systems. It also clears obstructions such as bird and animal nests, leaves and debris.
You should also check the roof space regularly, when a fire is lit, to ensure that smoke is not leaking into the roof space.
Use a fire-guard wherever possible to stop material from the hearth causing a fire within the property.
Chimneys should be swept at least once a year, with ventilation for flues and chimneys inspected at the same time. Chimneys should be swept by a competent contractor. Contact the National Association of Chimney Sweeps – Freephone 0800 833464 or visit www.nacs.org.uk