Chimney fire alert

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CFA has warned households in Melbourne’s south-east to keep their households “fire safe” during the cooler weather, after an increase in chimney fires in the region.

CFA South East Region Assistant Chief Officer Trevor Owen said CFA crews were being called to more chimney fires every year, both from fireplaces and solid-wood heaters.

He encouraged Cardinia residents to regularly check and maintain their fireplaces, chimneys, fireboxes and flues.

Over time there may be a build-up of a black tar-like residue called creosote which was highly flammable and could clog up chimneys, Mr Owen said.

“Creosote is not only caused by general use, but it can also build up quicker if you are using incorrect fuels, such as green wood or treated timbers,” he said.

“Every household should consider their fire safety practices and examine the potential risks around their home.

“Cooler weather conditions and the winter months are some of the riskiest times of the year for fires in the home and sadly, most of these fires can be prevented.

“Chimney fires can quickly turn into house fires, so the few minutes spent now could be one of the most important fire safety actions you take this winter.”

Mr Owen said the following steps could be taken to reduce the risk of a fire:
* Use a torch to check for creosote build-up or obstructions.
* Have your chimney professionally cleaned annually.
* Only burn dry, clean wood.
* Don’t leave a fire to burn after going to bed or leaving the house.
*Have gas heaters inspected and serviced to ensure the safety of loved ones.

“Fireplaces can also be a fire hazard if fuels are allowed to fall out of the fireplace. A secure guard or fireproof screen should be used at all times,” Mr Owen said.

“If drying clothes please ensure they are positioned at least one metre away from the heat source and constantly monitored to reduce the chance of them igniting.

“One of the nicest things about winter is curling up in front of a warm fire and with these small tips we can ensure you do this safely.”

Originally published at Pakenham Gazette.

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About Alana Mitchelson

Alana Mitchelson is a journalist based in Melbourne, Australia. Follow her on Twitter at @AlanaMitchelson.

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