Advice issued to those with a chimney or thatched roof property as cold nights see a rise in chimney fire callouts.

THE fire service has issued a warning after attending fourteen chimney fires across Devon and Somerset in the last week.

With temperatures set to fall to zero degrees tonight (Thurs) people are being urged to make sure their chimneys are safe when lighting up fires.

Last night fire fighters attended two separate chimney fires in Pyworthy and Lynton.

Mike Burroughs, fire investigation officer, said: “With the nights being quite cold people have naturally been warming up their homes by lighting the traditional home fire, but without proper maintenance a chimney can become dangerous.

“To keep yourself and your family safe from fire you should take care to have your chimney swept regularly, depending upon what fuel you burn.

“If the worst should happen, a smoke alarm can give you the extra time you need to escape in a house fire – make sure you test yours regularly.”

Owners of thatched properties are urged to be extra careful, as fires in thatched roofs can spread rapidly and be almost impossible to control.

Fire service advice

Chimneys should be dirt free with a free passage to carry dangerous gasses. The fire service is advising people to have their chimneys swept regularly as follows:

• Smokeless coals at least once a year

• Wood up to four times a year

• Bituminous coal twice a year

• Oil once a year

• Gas once a year

The fire service has also provided the following bits of advice to chimney owners:

• Always use a fire guard to protect against flying sparks from hot embers

• Make sure embers are properly put out before you go to bed or leaving the house

• When burning wood, use dry, seasoned woods only

• Never burn cardboard boxes or waste paper

• Do not overload the grate

• Bird nests, cobwebs and other blockages within chimney to be removed

• Consider having a carbon monoxide detector fitted as an additional safeguard against the build-up of poisonous fumes

• Have a working smoke alarm