Winter storm causes multiple downed power lines and chimney fire

There were multiple power outages due to downed power lines resulting in multiple calls to SFFR. Photo Courtesy of Linette Schmidt

SOUTH FORK - During the winter storm that occurred during the evening of Tuesday, Sept. 8, South Fork Fire Rescue (SFFR) responders were kept busy from call to call until the early hours of the morning of Sept. 9. There were multiple power outages due to downed power lines resulting in multiple calls to SFFR.

In addition to the downed power lines the station received a call of a chimney fire at 13 Commanche Court. Due to multiple downed power lines firefighters had difficulty accessing 13 Commanche Court which caused a small delay in response time. Firefighters found the chimney to be on fire the full-length of the chimney and it was beginning to progress down the eaves of the residence. Firefighters were able to get the fire under control quickly and contained the damage to the chimney.

Fireplaces and wood stoves are designed to safely contain wood-fuel fires, while providing heat for a home. The chimneys that serve them have the job of expelling the by-products of combustion – the substances produced when wood burns. These include smoke, water vapor, gases, unburned wood particles, hydrocarbon, tar fog and assorted minerals. As these substances exit the fireplace or wood stove, and flow up into the relatively cooler chimney, condensation occurs. The resulting residue that sticks to the inner walls of the chimney is called creosote.  Creosote is a black or brown residue that can be crusty and flaky, tar-like, drippy and sticky, or shiny and hardened. All forms are highly combustible. If it builds up in sufficient quantities, and the internal flue temperature is high enough, the result could be a chimney fire.  

Safety tips from the Chimney Safety Institute of America:
• Dirty chimneys can cause chimney fires, which damage structures, destroy homes and injure or kill people. ​Have your chimney professionally cleaned
• Indications of a chimney fire have been described as creating: Loud cracking and popping noises, a lot of dense smoke and an intense hot smell.

Chimney fires can burn explosively – noisy and dramatic enough to be detected by neighbors or people passing by. Flames or dense smoke may shoot from the top of the chimney. Homeowners report being startled by a low rumbling sound that reminds them of a freight train or a low flying airplane. 


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