The Alaska State Troopers are reminding Alaskans to stay safe throughout the winter season, especially when heating homes with wood stoves and fireplaces and in light of a notable recent spike in chimney fires in several Alaska communities.
Troopers warn in a press release moisture and creosote travel up the chimney as the heat and smoke rise, and that those by-products cool and build up inside a chimney in extremely cold weather, decreasing its efficiency. When those by-products are ignited, they can cause the chimney to overheat and fail, the release states.
To practice safe fire behavior to prevent a fire from starting, Troopers recommend the following:
• Follow manufacturer’s guidelines when installing new heating equipment
• Have heating equipment (including chimneys) inspected and cleaned by a qualified professional once a year
• Burn dry seasonal wood only
• Do not use flammable liquids to start a fire (gasoline, kerosene, BBQ starter fluid, etc.)
• Do not overload wood stove or fireplace with wood
• Clean chimney monthly with a recommended method if wood stove is used continuously
• Keep combustibles at least 36 inches away from wood stove or fireplace
• Keep children away from heating equipment
• Maintain heating equipment throughout the heating season to insure that it operates safely
• Install and maintain smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in your home
• Plan and practice a fire escape plan in case of a fire