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Author Topic: Chimney fire warning for those who heat with wood  (Read 2396 times)

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Offline kevin19343

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Chimney fire warning for those who heat with wood
« on: January 21, 2014, 03:08:56 PM »
I had a chimney fire Monday night.

I burn wood all winter long in my wood stove. I had about 1/4 cord of half dried white oak and thought I could just mix it in with the dry stuff....big mistake!!! .

It only took about 2 weeks for a dangerous level of creosote to build up on the stove pipe and when I was loading the stove with dry wood, it ignited.The smoke was so thick it blanketed the whole yard, and sparks were flying out of the chimney even though I had a cap on top.
 Luckily I was able to recognize the problem quickly, shut down the stove, and put out the fire without incident.

If you burn wood, please watch what you burn and clean your stove pipe and chimney out on a regular basis.



Offline thecfarm

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Re: Chimney fire warning for those who heat with wood
« Reply #1 on: January 21, 2014, 03:37:16 PM »
It's clean now. I had 2 in my other house. One I called the fire department the next one I just threw some snow into the chimney,took the oxygen away and the fire went out. But still scary and than some!! One I was outside and it was dark and I was wondering where the light was coming from. I started to clean it once every 3 weeks. That house I put wood heat into and the chimmey was all outside.
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Online POSTON WIDEHEAD

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Re: Chimney fire warning for those who heat with wood
« Reply #2 on: January 21, 2014, 03:52:38 PM »
When I built my house, I put the chimney on the outside wall as opposed of building it up through the attic.
The ceiling is open all the way to the roof in the room where the fire place is.
Before winter sets in, I pick a night when its raining and stuff papers up in the chimney and set it on fire.
It'll clean it good plus give a good fireworks show in the rain.

If anyone ever gets a chimney fire, you can take a fire extinguisher, that has the powder in it, and discharge it up the chimney. The chimney will draw the powder up and it'll take all the oxygen away from the fire.

Then call your Fire Dept. for a check.


Good post Kevin.  smiley_thumbsup
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Offline Ron Wenrich

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Re: Chimney fire warning for those who heat with wood
« Reply #3 on: January 21, 2014, 04:42:55 PM »
I put a stack thermometer on my wood stove.  I keep my temperature around 300-400°.  If you get it too low, you'll create more creosote and have more problems.  Get it too high, and you'll ignite that creosote.  I also have a Chem-fix flare handy.  If things get out of control, you simply light and throw it in the stove.  It smothers the fire, including the one in the chimney. 

I've been burning wood for 35 years, although its not a primary source of heat.  In that time, I had one fire, and that was when I burnt old locust fence posts.  Well dried.  The weather was very cold.  The real cold weather will make your stove or fireplace draft a whole lot better.  It probably wasn't the locust, but what I had burnt earlier.  After that fire, I got the thermometer and haven't had problems since.  Creosote in the chimney has been minimal.  Currently burning wood that's aged about 2 years+.  I also mix my locust with other wood during the cold snaps.
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Offline Magicman

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Re: Chimney fire warning for those who heat with wood
« Reply #4 on: January 21, 2014, 04:49:56 PM »
Yes they can and do ignite.
 

 
I can reduce the draft and control the burn or I can close off my draft and quickly extinguish a chimney fire.
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Offline goose63

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Re: Chimney fire warning for those who heat with wood
« Reply #5 on: January 21, 2014, 04:54:36 PM »
Just got done cleaning mine do it every 30 days don't like the extra fire
goose
if you find your self in a deep hole stop digging
saw logs all day what do you get lots of lumber and a day older
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Offline Alcranb

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Re: Chimney fire warning for those who heat with wood
« Reply #6 on: January 21, 2014, 05:05:40 PM »
Like POSTON said, don't hesitate to call the fire department. Even though you may be able to control the fire in your chimney can you control the possible extension into your wall?
Most FD's have a thermal camera available to them and can quickly and unobtrusively check to make sure all is well.
“Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.  So throw off the bowlines.  Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.  (Mark Twain)

Offline Larry

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Re: Chimney fire warning for those who heat with wood
« Reply #7 on: January 21, 2014, 05:10:26 PM »
A lot of small chimney fires is much better than one bigun.  We have a couple of wood stoves.  During cold weather its easy to keep the chimney temperature up in the range where creosote doesn't form.  With mild weather, if I burned the stove that hot it would run us out, so I have to damper it some.  When I first fire it in the morning I'll burn it hot to get rid of some of the creosote that has formed.  I also can tap the metal flue on both sides lightly with a mallet and knock creosote off into the firebox where it safely burns.
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Offline Den Socling

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Re: Chimney fire warning for those who heat with wood
« Reply #8 on: January 21, 2014, 05:32:49 PM »
Larry is right. You want an occasional small fire to keep chimneys clean. I have had many. Some were intentional. I just close the draft and keep an eye on things.

One time when we got a new neighbor, I happened to look outside the first night he was in his new home. I saw the tell-tale stream of sparks flying above his roof. I went over to tell him that he had a fire. He said the chimney had just been cleaned. He also said that another neighbor had given him a stack of kiln dried hardwood. It was an open fireplace so draft control was limited. We got a bunch of newspaper that had been used as packing. Soaked the paper in water and threw it into the fire. I hoped that the steam would slow the chimney fire but no. I went home and got an extinguisher. It put the fire in the firebox out but had no effect on the chimney. I got a ladder and another neighbor got a sheet of galvanized steel. We put that on top of the chimney. It took only seconds for it to get red hot. That was enough for me. We called the FD.

Offline coxy

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Re: Chimney fire warning for those who heat with wood
« Reply #9 on: January 21, 2014, 06:28:25 PM »
thank goodness we don't have to worry about them any more  its fun to look out side and see fire come out of the stack on the owb  ;D ;D ;D :)

Offline loghorse

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Re: Chimney fire warning for those who heat with wood
« Reply #10 on: January 21, 2014, 07:00:43 PM »
a while back someone mentioned throwing aluminum cans in the fireto help keep the chimmney clean.it works been doing it for a few years .pop cans orrrr beer cans work. also keep a sealed sandwich bag of flour close to fireplace or woodstove. open bag and throw in if chimmney fire,same results as ansul powder.

Offline Alcranb

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Re: Chimney fire warning for those who heat with wood
« Reply #11 on: January 21, 2014, 07:06:06 PM »
Den, I was involved in a similar situation where the "professional" chimney sweep had just cleaned the chimney. The pro had indeed cleaned the flue but neglected to vacuum behind the damper which just happened to be the place where all the clinkers accumulated. As you know  :) tough to control once it lights up.
“Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.  So throw off the bowlines.  Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.  (Mark Twain)

Offline drobertson

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Re: Chimney fire warning for those who heat with wood
« Reply #12 on: January 21, 2014, 07:28:45 PM »
this has been in discussion here as well, twice this year for our cleaning, bout dew for another one, sorry for you worries, and thanks for the warning.  Its easy to blow off the task, but not the clean up of a fire.   david
only have a few chain saws I'm not suppose to use, but will at times, one dog Dolly, pretty good dog, just not sure what for yet,  working on getting the gardening back in order, and kinda thinking on maybe a small bbq bizz,  thinking about it,

Offline clww

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Re: Chimney fire warning for those who heat with wood
« Reply #13 on: January 21, 2014, 08:58:56 PM »
At the cabin, I put a steel liner inside the normal flue, then surrounded that with a double row of cinder blocks, and had the masons cover it all with real stone veneer for the chimney. Once every couple of weeks, when I'm up there during cold weather, I run the basement stove wide open for about an hour. The stove and the pipe get cherry red after about five minutes and it sounds like a train when the suction gets going to it's full effect. I also replace the stove pipe every two years because they do get brittle after awhile, too.
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Offline gfadvm

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Re: Chimney fire warning for those who heat with wood
« Reply #14 on: January 21, 2014, 09:16:27 PM »
I had a chimney fire in our old house that destroyed the chimney tile. It looked like a $3000 new chimney until a friend suggested a stainless steel chimney liner. Worked like a dream (and the insurance covered it). We have a stainless liner in the chimney above our current stove and it gives a lot of peace of mind. These liners are somewhat expensive but are totally fireproof. We burn our stove pretty much continuously from Oct. thru March and I clean it once a year and get less than a gallon of creosote.

Offline sawguy21

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Re: Chimney fire warning for those who heat with wood
« Reply #15 on: January 21, 2014, 10:46:40 PM »
This is something that always worried me. A neighbor and his dad built much of the guardrail on the Trans Canada highway through the Rogers Pass. They planted then topped the creosoted posts, he brought the tops home to burn in the furnace. His son and I hated packing the stinky sticky blocks. Every so often he would build a roaring fire to clean the chimney, it is a wonder he didn't burn the house down. Of course no one could tell him of the danger, he knew everything. His son continued the practice in his own home until finally changing the furnace to a natural gas unit.
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Offline Roger2561

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Re: Chimney fire warning for those who heat with wood
« Reply #16 on: January 22, 2014, 06:35:14 AM »
It was due to a chimney fire that I purchased the OWB.  With it outside and 30 feet away from the house the risk is no more.  I can sleep sound now and not have to worry about it.  With my fire I had just arrived home from work, walked in the door and heard that "whooooosh" sound.  Looked up saw flames shooting from the chimney, walked inside, closed down the wood stove tight and called the FD.  Some of the guys and gals I'm good friends with and don't you think they didn't give me a ribbing.  That's when I decided I needed to buy the OWB.  Roger 
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Offline maple flats

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Re: Chimney fire warning for those who heat with wood
« Reply #17 on: January 22, 2014, 08:45:38 AM »
I've had just 1 chimney fire in my life and it was extremely scarey. Back in the 70's We owned a home (large old Victorian) that was rented out and suffered a fire. Roof burned off, lots of fire damage in one bedroom/closet, where the kids had played with matches and loads of water damage throughout. In the after math, I hired a contractor to put a new roof on and close up everything needed. Then several months later my wife and I, along with our 2 young kids (5 & 3) moved into 1 room while I started the task of rebuilding everything. One of our first thinks was to put in a "Franklin Fireplace" to help heat. With all of the water damage, the hardwood floors all had to be removed and disposed of. Brilliant idea, I cut it into about 16-18" lengths to use as firewood. Then on one rather cold day my wife put a little too much of the "prime firewood" into the stove. I was working upstairs when she screamed for help. The fire was roaring, the cast iron doors were glowing red and I ran outside to look up, while she called the fire dept. Fire was shooting several feet out the top of the chimney. I ran back in to check the 2nd floor walls where the chimney rose thru the center of the house. The walls were quite warm. We then got out just as the fire dept arrived. They checked, used some sort of dry extinguisher to put the fire out. All went quiet. Then they had to rip open the new sheet rock on all the 2nd floor walls around the chimney to check for embers that could re-ignite. Fortunately they found none and we were allowed to re-enter. The Chimney was condemned as far as wood fire use, we had to resume heating with the gas furnace (and high bills, since I had only completed about 1/4 of the walls being insulated.)
A chimney fire is something I hope I never experience again. It was extremely scarey to go through.
Starting a year later (in our next home, as we sold that one after fully rebuilding from the initial fire) and every year since, we have heated with wood. Some pointers:
only burn well seasoned wood, clean the chimney regularly or hire it done, use a mirror to inspect for buildup of creosote. Creosote can be built up from burning damp wood or from choking off a fire too much. The newer wood stoves are able to choke down so much that the chimney runs too cool, causing faster creosote build up. Be careful and be safe!
Dave
logging small time for years but just learning how,  2012 36 HP Mahindra tractor, 3point log arch, 8000# class excavator, lifts 2500# and sets logs on mill precisely where needed,  Peterson ATS upgraded to WPF mill, maple syrup a hobby that consumes my time. looking to learn blacksmithing.

Offline farmfromkansas

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Re: Chimney fire warning for those who heat with wood
« Reply #18 on: January 08, 2019, 07:44:16 PM »
I have been using a wood stove in the basement of my house since I built it in '81.  Don't know if we ever had a chimney fire, but when building the house, got a good mason to build the chimney, and I carried sand to fill the entire cavity between the liner and the block or brick in the chimney.  We filled it clear to the top and when he poured the top on the chimney, it was on sand, not cement sacks.

Offline easymoney

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Re: Chimney fire warning for those who heat with wood
« Reply #19 on: January 19, 2019, 01:44:18 AM »
people talk about what they would buy or do if they suddenly came into a lot of money like winning the lottery. one of the first things i would do i would get rid of my wood heater and heat with something that was less danger and trouble. ;D


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