Warning after man hospitalised by chimney fire
PUBLISHED: 14:44 04 January 2019 | UPDATED: 13:38 07 January 2019
South Norfolk has seen a spate of chimney fires over the new year period, including one that hospitalised an elderly man.
On Thursday, January 3 a fire engine, two ambulances and a rapid response vehicle were sent to Tibenham after a man in his 80s suffered breathing difficulties during a chimney fire. The man was taken to Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital for treatment.
Forncett, Diss, Long Stratton have also seen emergency services called out to chimney fires since New Year’s Day.
All chimney fires are extremely dangerous even though their intensity and duration may vary. During a chimney fire, temperatures within the chimney can reach 1,100C.
Gary Collins, planning and protection manager at Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS), said: “If there’s a chimney fire there’s something being burnt that shouldn’t be so make sure your chimney is swept and clean.
“We had a few recently - there was one where there wasn’t a guard on the outside of the fire. It’s important to make sure there’s always a guard there, especially if you have small children.
“Chimney fires are not generally a challenge for us, but they are if you have got a thatched property. Also never leave a fire when you go to bed.”
NFRS official advice states the most common causes of chimney fires include infrequent sweeping and cleaning, burning unseasoned wet wood, and overnight burning for long periods in wood stoves.
It recommends ensuring regular cleaning and maintenance, fire guards, moisture meters, good quality fuel, extinguishing before leaving the house or going to bed, and never interrupting the air supply by blocking air vents or air bricks.
Chimney fires are usually started when high temperatures or flames from a very hot fire extend into the chimney and debris catches light.
NFRS recommend sweeping chimneys as much as three times during winter and at least once per season regardless of what fuel is being used.
It also urges fire place owners to buy appropriately sized appliances, as a large appliances will never get hot enough to burn the fuel fully. The unburned fuel will then pass up the chimney as smoke and condense into extremely flammable creosote. In the event of a chimney fire call 999.