Burn with caution

Posted: Friday, March 12, 2010

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.

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