A Monday morning fire in Sidney could have caused more damage, had it not been for the actions of a neighbour.
Sidney Volunteer Fire Department responded to the 2000-block of Weiler Avenue West before 8 a.m. after receiving reports of a chimney fire. Chief Brett Mikkelsen said crews stopped the fire from spreading beyond the chimney of the home.
“Probably the best takeaway is that they had a good neighbour who noticed flames coming out of their chimney and alerted us right away,” he said. If left unchecked, chimney fires can create enough heat to destroy chimneys and spread from there, he said.
Mikkelsen said crews were on scene for about an hour before turning it over to the homeowners.
It is hard to assess damage, he added. “There is no damage to the home per se,” he said. “Whether there is damage to the actual piping of the fireplace would have to be determined when they get a chimney sweeper or a technician in there. It (the chimney) is not usable until it is inspected and certified by a professional.” Mikkelsen said the homeowners told crews that they had been using clean wood and servicing the chimney regularly.
“Chimney fires are typically caused by a build-up of creosote on the inside lining of the actual chimney,” he said. “That then ignites and causes the actual fire. Or people put a bunch of combustibles in their chimneys that are not appropriate. That was not the case in this circumstance, so it must have been a likely accumulation of creosote over time, which then ignited in the chimney itself.”
Creosote is a tar-like, malleable substance consisting of byproducts created by the burning of fibrous material. “It’s all of the oils that collect as a result of the burning,” Mikkelsen explained.
In this case, he said the chimney looked like it had been regularly serviced. “So it’s a bit odd, but it can happen.”
While private homeowners are not subject to any laws regulating the frequency of chimney inspections, best practices call for annual inspections and cleanings if used regularly, Mikkelsen noted.
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