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Prevention key to avoiding chimney fires

Published: Dec. 22, 2021 at 4:37 PM CST
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MERRILL, Wis. (WSAW) - The Merrill Fire Department has responded to three structure fires since Thanksgiving, the most recent was on Monday, December 20 in the Town of Scott.

Fire Chief Josh Klug said the build-up of combustible materials inside the chimney is what causes the fires, especially if they aren’t cleaned or used often.

“Chimney fires are a relatively frequent occurrence especially as we see more people burning with wood again, maybe due to heating costs,” said Klug.

When the fire department gets a call for a chimney fire, the first thing they do is go to the source. They also send a team to the roof to assess from above. Then, they use a mirror to look inside to see where it’s burning from.

They use a fire extinguisher or chimney bomb to put the fire out. A chimney bomb is made of the same material that’s in a dry chemical fire extinguisher, it’s just inside a plastic baggie. The crew tosses it down from the top of the chimney and as it heats up the plastic melts and releases the inner contents.

Once the fire is out, firefighters use a chain to knock off some of the combustible material. Finally, they begin the cleaning process to ensure there isn’t another fire.

“We just want to encourage homeowners to do what they can on the preventive side to hopefully avoid having that chimney fire to begin with,” said Klug.

He encourages people to get their chimney cleaned by a technician annually.

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