Alert issued after four more chimney fires

Chimney fires
Chimney fires
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Four more chimney fires broke out over the weekend in Linslade, Henlow, Silsoe and Bedford following five that occurred across Bedfordshire over the New Year period.

Chimney fires often start when people light chimneys or wood burners without getting their chimney or flue cleaned first and can have devastating consequences for householders and their property. Fortunately firefighters from Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue were able to successfully deal with these recent incidents.

On Friday (January 6 ) there was a chimney fire around noon in Stanley Street, Bedford dealt with by Bedford firefighters using a stirrup pump and chimney rods.

Later that day, at 8.18pm, a chimney caught fire in a semi-detached house in Stoke Road, Linslade. Two fire engines from Leighton Buzzard Fire Station were sent to the incident and extinguished that fire using chimney rods, buckets of water and a stirrup pump.

On Saturday ( January 7), Luton firefighters attended a chimney fire in Fileden Court, Silsoe which was fortunately out on arrival.

Finally at 4.13pm on Sunday (January 8), a fire broke out in a wood burning stove in Arlesey Road, Henlow, causing smoke logging to an adjoining property due to suspected defect in the brick work. The wood burning stove was extinguished by firefighters using buckets of water.

These fires are often caused by blockages in flues such as a bird’s nest, overloading the open fire or a build-up of combustible material. This occurs when all the fuel (coal, wood etc.) is not burnt but gets stuck in the chimney or flue. Chimney fires often weaken the chimney breast, other walls and can ignite other parts of the house.

To prevent chimney fires householders should:

> Have their chimney swept before lighting it after a long period of not being used (i.e. during the summer and autumn);

> Ensure chimneys are swept regularly by a professional chimney sweep

> Between “sweeps” keep chimneys, flues and appliances clean and well maintained

> Always use a fire guard to protect against flying sparks from hot embers

> Store fuel away from the appliance so sparks do not set it alight

> Ensure the fire is completely out before going to bed or leaving the house

> Ensure good quality and appropriate fuel is used

> Avoid blocking air vents or air bricks or interrupting the air supply

Service Operational Commander Ian Evans, Head of Operations, said: “Always get your chimney swept before you light it if it’s been left dormant for some time as blockages can occur.

“Home insurance policies often state you should take reasonable care of your chimney and for thatched properties could specify how often your chimney is swept. Ignoring this could mean you are uninsured if your chimney catches fire, so check your policy and have your chimney swept.

“The smoke released naturally during burning can seep back into your house potentially poisoning the occupants.

“ We recommend that you have a working Carbon Monoxide Detector in any room with a solid fuel appliance. Landlords are required to fit carbon monoxide alarms in rooms containing solid fuel appliances. Every home should also have a working smoke detector on each floor.”

For more information visit www.bedsfire.com