Firefighters tackle 20 chimney fires in four weeks

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Firefighters are urging people with fireplaces and wood-burners to take extra care during the current cold weather.

The warning follows nearly 20 chimney fires over the past four weeks, including two on Wednesday evening in Milton Keynes.

Crews from Great Holm and Broughton put out a chimney fire at a house in Cambridge Street, Wolverton, after being called shortly before 8.30pm.

Firefighters from Newport Pagnell then dealt with one in Northampton Road, Lathbury, after being called at just after 10pm.

Chris Bailey, head of Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service’s community safety team, said: “January, February and March are traditionally three of the busiest months for chimney fires. It’s really important to have your chimney swept regularly and to be extra careful when burning wood.

“I would also urge all householders to have working smoke alarms in their homes.”

Chris offered the following safety advice.

Have your chimney swept at least once a year – and at least twice a year if you burn wood. If you have recently opened up and started to use a fireplace, make sure it is inspected by a qualified person.

When burning wood, use dry, seasoned woods only. Never burn cardboard boxes or waste paper.

Build smaller, hotter fires that burn more completely and produce less smoke. Extinguish the fire before going to bed or leaving the house.

Don’t overload the grate or appliance. Use a fire or spark guard to prevent accidental fires.

Inspect your chimney breast, particularly in the roof space. Make sure that it is sound and that the sparks or fumes cannot escape through cracks or broken bricks.

Ensure wood-burners are installed and maintained in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.

Make sure the appliance receives enough air to allow the fuel to burn properly. Consider having a carbon monoxide detector fitted

If you would like Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service to carry out a free safety check in your home, fitting free smoke alarms where needed, ring 01296 744477, email to cs@bucksfire.gov.uk or visit ww.bucksfire.gov.uk/bucksfire/free