ANCHORAGE - For the past five years, the leading cause of fatal fires in Alaska in early spring has been chimney fires.
The high cost of home heating fuels and utilities have caused many Alaskans to rely on woodstoves and fireplaces to heat their homes. In many cases these woodstoves or fireplaces have not been installed or maintained properly to insure safe heating.
"A chimney fire can ignite surrounding building materials before the occupants of the home are aware of the danger," Mahlon Greene, public education coordinator for the Alaska Division of Fire and Life Safety, said.
Heating with wood can be economical and safe by following some safety tips:
Have woodstoves, fireplaces and chimneys inspected by a licensed professional prior to use
Do not use flammable liquids to start fires
Do Not overload stove or fireplace
Use approved screen or glass cover for fireplace
Follow woodstove and chimney manufacturers clearance recommendations
Burn dry, well seasoned wood
Clean stove and chimney regularly
Have stove and chimney inspected annually
Put ashes in a metal bucket and soak with water before disposal
It is also important to check fire detectors and replace batteries in the units often.