Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service is urging local people to take care with open fires in the home after a number of chimney fires over the weekend.
Open fires are a warm, welcoming addition to the home, but they do carry risks. If you have an open fire, you should:
Always use a fire guard to protect against flying sparks from hot embers;
Make sure that embers are properly put out before you leave the property or go to bed; and
Keep chimneys and flues clean and well maintained.
Group Manager Graham Kewley said: “A combination of colder weather and trying to keep costs down means people are more likely to be lighting fires or using woodburning stoves. Chimneys should be swept twice a year as a minimum to remove accumulated soot and tar, as well as making sure that the chimney is clear of debris.
“Green, or unseasoned, wood, shouldn’t be used as it smoulders with long burning embers and produces a lot of creosote and not much heat. Build-ups of creosote in a chimney or flue can become highly flammable and dangerous. You should also avoid burning painted, coated or treated wood, as this can release harmful gases.”
Another danger is the storage of wood and other fuel immediately next to a woodburning stove, as heat can build up and lead to a fire igniting.
Blocked or defective chimney flues also carry the risk of leading to carbon monoxide poisoning so, as well as getting chimneys swept, people are encouraged to fit smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors in their homes.
Further information on keeping your home warm and safe this winter can be found at www.dwfire.org.uk/save-safely