A chimney fire broke out at a home on NE 20th Place in Newport Saturday morning. Arriving firefighters discovered that the wall behind the wood stove was quite hot and so they quickly went to work to extinguish what was burning inside the chimney – which was described as three feet of accumulated creosote, or unburned residue from burning wood.
Fire fighters attacked the blaze from the bottom and the top of the chimney. Those on the roof used a simple garden-type hose with what looked like a “mister” on the end that they lowered down inside the chimney. Using a heat sensor, firefighters inside the home could see the heat gradient which showed at the base of the chimney and about three feet up from the bottom. Quite a creosote plug, to be sure.
Firefighters on the roof kept raising and lowering the mister down into the chimney, allowing it to hammer its way through the worst of the accumulated creosote down near the base.
Firefighters eventually got the creosote pretty well cooled off and also to establish that there were no breaches in the chimney that could lead to sparks escaping it. However, they told the homeowner that it’s critically important to have the chimney inspected and cleaned thoroughly before they have another fire in the wood stove.
The homeowner said that they don’t have that many fires in the stove, in fact rather few throughout the year. But firefighters say problems from creosote build up are caused more by infrequent use (and often without seasoned wood) than from burning a fire every day. They say it’s always smart to have a chimney sweep/inspector evaluate the chimney prior to the first fire of the Fall or Winter seasons. And if it needs sweeping, do it. Chimney fires are the leading cause of lost houses. It’s always better, they say, to clean out your chimney before it cleans you out.