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More Chilly Nights on the Way, Remember Fireplace Safety

Chimney and stovepipe maintenance are a key part of preventing home heating fires, fire officials said.

With more chilly nights expected this winter season, fire department across the state are reminding residents to review fireplace safety.

"Nothing better on these cold nights than a cozy fire in the fireplace," fire officials said. "...Be winter safe and make sure your fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room."

When disposing of ashes, be sure they are cool before putting them in a metal container and keep that container a safe distance away from your home, fire officials said.

Heating fires account for 36 percent of residential home fires in rural areas every year, according to the U.S. Fire Administration and FEMA.

Nationwide, more than one-third of Americans use fireplaces, wood stoves and other fuel-fired appliances as primary heat sources in their homes.

Chimney maintenance is a key part of preventing home heating fires, fire officials said.

"Often these fires are due to creosote buildup in chimneys and stovepipes," federal fire officials said. "All home heating systems require regular maintenance to function safely and efficiently."

Overnight lows for Scotts Valley are expected to be in the low 30s in the coming days.

For more information on fireplace safety, visit www.usfa.fema.gov/citizens/home_fire_prev/heating/fireplace.

Lynda Phillips January 04, 2013 at 07:12 PM
I felt that this article didn't go far enough on woodstove chimney safety regarding the build-up of creosote. I know that the first answer in how to remove creosote is to hire a chimney sweep, but isn't there some monthly task that will keep the build-up from starting? How good are those logs specially designed to burn-off creosote when burned in a chimney? Is there any type of wood that will burn cleaner than others? What other proven ways are there to keep creosote build-up to a minimum or not even starting to build up. There are several homes in the Santa Cruz Mountains that are heated by a fireplace or woodstove so NOT using them is not an option, but we want to be sure that the constant usage is both safe and as non-polluting as possible with regard to wood burning to heat our homes.

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