DESPITE repeated safety messages this winter fire crews are still dealing with numerous chimney fires - 40 in the past 12 weeks alone. On Saturday evening the Ilfracombe crew attended one in the town, while on Sunday crews were called to two separate inci

DESPITE repeated safety messages this winter fire crews are still dealing with numerous chimney fires - 40 in the past 12 weeks alone.On Saturday evening the Ilfracombe crew attended one in the town, while on Sunday crews were called to two separate incidents, a chimney fire at Burrington and another involving a wood burner at Holsworthy.Chimney fires are often numerous at the beginning of the autumn and winter or a plunge into a cold snap, as homeowners light fires and stoves for the first time.Without regular maintenance they can become blocked, by debris, soot or old birds nests, leading to the dangerous chance of a fire.The fire service has repeated calls for householders to ensure chimneys are swept regularly, at least once per year and in the case of some appliances such as wood burner, quarterly."Chimney fires are one of the most common incidents that we attend," said David Hodge, Home Safety Manager."Many properties have lost the roof, first floor or in some cases been completely destroyed. "The consequence includes damage caused directly by the fire, along with the dirt and smell from the soot and smoke."Checking surrounding brickwork, flue and loft or roof spaces is also important, as is the installation of smoke and carbon monoxide alarms.To find your local chimney sweep, contact the National Association of Chimney Sweeps on free phone 0800 833464. For a free home safety visit call 0800 7311822.