Depoe Bay fire officials say the cause of the fire at the Salishan Lodge early Wednesday morning was a crack in the concrete casing that surrounds the lodge’s fireplace chimney as it goes up through the roof.
Depoe Bay Assistant Chief Bill Johnson says the crack allowed flame and heat to escape to the outside air at the base of the chimney, as well as within the lodge’s attic. So the fire was burning atop the roof, and below it in the attic crawl space.
Johnson said the saving grace was the attic sprinkler system that fired perfectly and slowed the fire down to where firefighters mainly had to check to see where there were any pockets of fire the sprinklers missed.
When the fire was out, the lodge was advised to shut down their big fireplace until repairs can be made to the chimney.
Johnson says anyone with a fireplace should have their chimney checked and cleaned EVERY YEAR to ensure no heat or flame is escaping, either at the base of the chimney or from the flue. Chimney fires, he says, are one of the most common causes of house fires even though they are almost entirely preventable.
Johnson says annual inspections and cleanings dramatically reduce chimney fires – that and burning only seasoned wood. Burning green wood is very dangerous since it doesn’t completely burn, leaving creosote coating the interior walls of the chimney which weakens it. Cracks can easily develop as occurred at the Salishan Lodge earlier this week.