A clean chimney can prevent a fire

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine - As the days get colder, more of us will be turning up the heat. But is your chimney up to snuff? Kathy McCarty met with a member of the Presque Isle Fire Department who shared some tips on preventing chimney fires.

A call to report a chimney fire Friday has officials with the Presque Isle Fire Department reminding folks to clean their chimneys. Don't just clean your chimney and forget it, says Grant Spinney, the department's fire prevention officer. He says it's important to check it throughout the year to ensure it stays clean.

"What people don't realize is that with the fluctuation in temperatures - our temperatures are rising during the day and lowering at night, the colder the temperatures get and how long they stay persistent of being cold is the cause of the creosote building up in the chimney."

There are no set times one should clean a chimney but doing it more often will help prevent problems. How often you use your chimney also is a factor.

"The more often that your gonna burn wood and burn it consistently is gonna make the difference of how much creosote you actually are gonna build up in your chimneys."

The type of fuel you use to heat your home can make a difference as well.

"Pellet stoves typically don't build up creosote. I'm not saying that you can't have issues with pellet stoves, but it's not as common. People are always told to use seasoned firewood, and the reason being is seasoned wood is dry wood, and dry wood doesn't have the saps and the moisture."

If wood is green, it tends to create more vapor, which leads to creosote buildup in the chimney and thus more problems. Spinney says there are signs a cleaning might be needed.

"A clean-burning chimney should be almost clear or a light white. You start getting a yellowish color to a dark brown, you're getting into trouble. If you start getting into black and you have black smoke and embers coming out, you actually have a chimney fire."

Spinney says it's the perfect time of year to get chimneys cleaned. He says while the fire department isn't certified to inspect chimneys, they do have contact information for certified chimney sweeps. For more information, contact the Presque Isle Fire Department.