Officials warn to check your chimney before starting a fire - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Officials warn to check your chimney before starting a fire

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(Western Mass News photo) (Western Mass News photo)

A warning tonight to have your chimney's checked as cold weather settles in.

Local firefighters are already dealing with chimney fires.  

In 2016, the state fire marshal said that there were 565 reported fires in chimneys or fireplaces.  That includes at least one death, not to mention $2.3 million in property losses.  

So before you fire up the fireplace, you may want to call a professional chimney sweep.

The first flakes have fallen and some cold weather is here, with more in the forecast. 

The Longmeadow Fire Department has already responded to reports of chimney fires, which prompted a warning.

"We should, before we start burning, have our chimneys checked by a chimney sweep or a mason to get creosote buildup, but also cracks and things like that in the chimney repaired, so the fire stays within the chimney and doesn't get into the walls of the house," said Longmeadow Fire Capt. Jay Macsata.

That creosote Macsata referred to is a byproduct of wood burning, like tar and soot.  He said it can build up inside the chimney lining.

"And then when you have a regular fire, it gets warm enough and starts on fire and now you have a chimney fire," Macsata.

Those cracks inside your chimney often cannot be seen. 

"So that's why you need a professional to do an inspection so they can find those," Macsata added.

Finally, Macsata told Western Mass News that fireplace fires are often caused by human error.

"We have been to incidents in town where people have closed the flue too soon and fortunately, they were not injured, but the house did fill the house with carbon monoxide and the carbon monoxide alarms did go off and save them," Macsata noted.

Macsata said that coals can emit carbon monoxide sometimes for day, so leaving the flue open is critical, as well as updating your carbon monoxide and smoke detectors, especially now that winter is settling in.

As for chimney sweep prices, Western Mass News found in our area, they can range from $125 to $250, depending on the type of chimney, it's condition or often times, we're told, if an animal is found inside.

Copyright 2017 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation).  All rights reserved.

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