Prompts warnings from area fire departments
HENDERSON COUNTY–The fire that destroyed a home in Enchanted Oaks last week is reported to have begun in the chimney. According to the fire marshal’s office, the accidental fire started in the chimney while the residents were enjoying a fire in the fireplace.
Reports show they were alerted by noise in the chimney, went outside and saw flames shooting out. The blaze spread from the chimney to the attic and caused the roof to collapse. Thanks to the quick response by Enchanted Oaks, Gun Barrel City, Payne Springs, Eustace, Malakoff, Mabank and Log Cabin Firefighters, the blaze did not spread to area homes. It took firefighters several hours to completely extinguish the flames.
Payne Springs Fire Rescue held an after-action review for area fire departments to review that fire for training as is often done after a major fire. The incidence of chimney fires increases as winter winds blow and there are precautions homeowners should take to reduce their chance of experiencing one.
Although in the recent fire, the homeowners had recently had their chimney cleaned, most chimney fires can be prevented through regular cleaning and maintenance. According to cts.com, "There are more than 25,000 chimney fires incurring $125 million-plus in property damage every year in the United States. That damage is largely due to flames in the lower chimney migrating upward to crack, warp, melt or otherwise negatively affect the masonry or metal chimney walls."
The report explains that creosote buildup is the main cause of chimney fires. The creosote comes from particles that were not fully burned during the fire and when the temperatures in the chimney lowered, they attached to the chimney walls forming the creosote. In fact, when the temperatures within the chimney are below 250 degrees Fahrenheit, the substance in the smoke will condense and stick to the walls. When the temperature drops below 150 degrees Fahrenheit, the substance again changes form, this time to a dark, sticky substance. This dark sticky and sometimes flaky material can easily catch on fire, and thus is the root cause of the chimney fires.
Area fire departments recommend yearly cleanings and a professional inspection before the wood burning season each year.