How to Prevent and Notice a Chimney Fire - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

How to Prevent and Notice a Chimney Fire

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With propane prices going through the roof many in the valley are relying on alternative sources of heat. Like wood burning fire places. Valley News Team's Eric Crest found out how to make certain that your fireplace is safe and that you're not putting your family or home in danger when firing it up.

They're nice to cuddle up to on a cold winter day and the ebbs and flows of the picture show beats television anyway. Wood burning fireplaces are all the rage in light of the rising prices associated with heating your home.

"Right now when electricity is expensive and propane gets expensive, they're looking for an option to save money. To heat their home at a lower price," says Darla Skaurud the manager at Home and Hearth in Fargo.

But these beauties can also be dangerous. You're supposed to get your chimney swept once a year otherwise the experts warn of a buildup called creosote which could cause more problems than you bargained for.

"Actually it's more like a tar like substance that will catch on fire up inside the chimney," explains Assistant Fargo Fire Chief Leroy Skarloken.

"soot or creosote buildup on furniture or around the fireplace or stove... they should be a bit concerned and get it checked out," adds Skaurud.

Green wood,a lack of cleaning and burning cardboard or an excessive amount of paper can all be blamed for creosote build up. A fire that at it's worst can be seen from outside the home.

"You might have sparks coming out the top of the chimney," says Skarloken.

But while you won't necessarily see a chimney fire coming, especially from inside, you might be able to hear it.

"You might have a roaring sound inside your fire place and that would be the fire inside the chimney burning," says Skarloken.

The experts also say to burn large logs rather than small ones and to never use gasoline or kerosene to get the fire going.

"Dry wood that's been seasoned approximately a year. And burning hot fires and burning them thoroughly rather than burning short smaller fires," explains Skaurud.

So enjoy them. They're still beautiful. But don't let the comfort disguise some of the real dangers associated with fireplaces.

One last tip, have a fire extinguisher on hand if you have a wood burning fire in your home. If you're due for a chimney sweep consider getting it done in the spring when that creosote isn't so rock hard. A chimney sweeper we spoke with says it's tough to do a thorough job when the temperatures are this cold.

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