Faulty Installation Blamed for Chimney Fire

Tuesday, October 26, 2010 - 11:10am

City of Madison fire investigators say faulty installation of a fireplace and chimney was the cause of a house fire Saturday night 1617 Droster Road.

The homeowners say they were using the fireplace for the first time this season when a passing pizza deliver driver alerted them to flames coming through the roof. There were 10 occupants in the home at the time. All evacuated without injury.

Investigators say radiant heat from the metal chimney ignited surrounding beams inside the wall of the chimney.
Much of the roof was damaged and damages to the house and its contents are now expected to reach $40,000.

The City of Madison Fire Department reminds residents that using fireplaces and wood burning stoves safely requires these steps:

•Check that you have working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms at all times.
•Be sure the fireplace or stove is installed properly. Wood stoves should have adequate clearance (36 inches) from combustible surfaces and proper floor support and protection.
•Wood stoves should be of good quality, solid construction, and design. Purchase wood stoves evaluated by a nationally recognized laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL).
•Have the chimney inspected annually and cleaned if necessary, especially if it has not been used for some time.
•Do not use flammable liquids to start or accelerate any fire.
•Keep a glass or metal screen in front of the fireplace opening, to prevent embers or sparks from jumping out, unwanted material from going in, and help prevent the possibility of burns to occupants.
•The stove should be burned hot twice a day for 15-30 minutes to reduce the amount of creosote buildup.
•Don't use excessive amounts of paper to build roaring fires in fireplaces. It is possible to ignite creosote in the chimney by overbuilding the fire.
•Before you go to sleep, be sure your fireplace fire is out. NEVER close your damper with hot ashes in the fireplace. A closed damper will help the fire to heat up again and will force toxic carbon monoxide into the house.
•If synthetic logs are used, follow the directions on the package. NEVER break a synthetic log apart to quicken the fire or use more than one log at a time. They often burn unevenly, releasing higher levels of carbon monoxide.

  • Lori Wirth, (608) 266-5947