WILBRAHAM, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- We have seen a recent uptick in chimney fires across the state with the latest occurring at a home in Wilbraham over the weekend.

That's why a local fire department is speaking up, giving advice on how to prevent a similar disaster in your home.

Western Mass News was on-scene Saturday night as firefighters from Wilbraham worked to contain a chimney fire on Ridge Road.

Northampton Deputy Fire Chief Andrew Pelas told Western Mass News that scenes like that are something they work to prevent through proper education and awareness.

"We're strong in prevention in Northampton and we like to get the word out on preventing fires and chimney fires," Pelas explained.

While their department hasn't had a chimney fire this season, it's typically just a matter of time.

"This time of year, we usually get one or two chimney fires. Most chimney fires are from a build up of creosote when it's not properly cleaned it's built up and ends up chatting fire in the chimney," Pelas added.

Pelas told Western Mass News that they recommend a yearly inspection to prevent chimney fires.

"We usually say at the start of the season, get it done and depending on how much build up you had from the previous season, they might recommend you getting it done again in the season," Pelas explained.

In these inspections, they will not only look for that creosote build-up, but also that your chimney isn't cracked. Pelas said a cracked chimney quickly leads to fires spreading to your entire home. That's why he said if you have a fire in your chimney, whatever you do, don't use water.

"Try to contain it to the chimney until we get there. Sometimes, people try to spray water to put it out and it ends up cracking the chimney and can create more problems," Pelas said.

Pelas also said:

  • Make sure you're only burning hard, dried woods
  • Keep your wood at least three feet from your fireplace
  • Never using an accelerant like gasoline
  • Always have a cap on your chimney

However, if you do find yourself with a fire in your chimney, Pelas said, "The big thing is people try to put chimney fires out and sometimes put themselves in harms way. The best thing to do is to make sure the screen is closed and call a professional."

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