Fire safety key as temps drop

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


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