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State Fire Officials: Warmer Winter Hikes Risk of Chimney Fires

PORTLAND, Maine - An unexpected consequence of this winter's relatively warm temperatures may be a buildup of creosote in chimneys from wood burning. 

State Fire Marshall Joe Thomas says slow burning fires increase creosote buildup, which could lead to chimney fires.
"During the times that temperatures are warmer, people are doing that - they're dampening down the stove," Thomas says.  "They do keep it going, but it's very low and you actually see a darker smoke coming out of the chimneys."

Thomas says when temperatures drop and people burn hotter fires that creosote build-up can ignite. He says fires that destroyed two homes in Maine last weekend started in chimneys.

Thomas urges homeowners to check their chimneys for creosote. He says creosote burning logs or powder can be used to reduce build up, but the best way to reduce the risk of chimney fires is to regularly run a brush through the chimney.

Thomas says those with concerns about their chimneys should contact a professional chimney sweep.