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Creosote Build-Up Fuels Chimney Fires Warm Weather Followed By Cold Spell Makes Combustible Combination

Thu., Feb. 16, 1995

The sudden cold snap that hit last weekend led to a leap in chimney fires in the Spokane Valley.

During the unseasonably warm weather of the past couple of weeks, people burned their woodstoves and fireplaces at a lower intensity, said Valley Fire inspector Kevin Miller. That causes creosote build-up in the chimney, he said.

Temperatures dropped from a high of 53 last Wednesday to a high of 16 on Monday. That led people to start burning their stoves hot again. The creosote build-up in chimneys sparked fires, Miller said.

That’s what happened to Tyrie Howard, whose chimney at E11719 Skyview caught fire Monday morning. There was no serious damage.

“We’ll have a rash of (chimney fires) when something like this happens,” Miller said. Most chimney fires are in the fall because that’s when people burn more slowly, he added.

There were two chimney fires on Sunday and another on Monday.

Mary Pass, who lives at E8819 Mansfield, said she had been burning more slowly during the warm spell, but heated the fire up when the temperature dropped. Her chimney caught fire Sunday night about 5:30 p.m. There was no serious damage.

To prevent chimney fires, Miller said, people should burn the stove on high for a portion of every day, to clean out creosote build-up. Chimneys also should be cleaned at least once a year, he said.

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