Prepare to keep your home safe in the winter

Fire department offers tips on preventing fires

Keywords: Poll question,

As the temperatures drop, more residents are turning to a fire source for warmth.

With more fireplaces being used, there is always a danger if precautions are not followed, the Cortez Fire Protection District is reporting.

Fire Chief Jeff Vandevoorde said a chimney fire on Monday occurred when a homeowner started a fire without inspecting the chimney. He realized there was a problem when smoke started billowing back into the home.

The cause of the fire was from a nest birds had made in the chimney when the weather was warmer. Vandevoorde said that firefighters were able to contain the fire before it spread.

He also said some residents use wooden pellet stoves and these too need to be cleaned and maintained.

“Chimneys need to be cleaned once a year by someone who is qualified to do it,” Vandevoorde said.

He said that chimneys need to be checked for cracks because a small crack could result in the fire spreading to the attic and roof.

The fire protection district responds to numerous chimney fires every year for the simple reason that no preventative measures were taken.

“A lot of times that creosol will back up and it will start a fire,” Vandevoorde said.

Creosol is a colorless oily liquid that comes from wood tar and guaiacum resin.

What makes chimney fires more troubling is that they are often not immediately recognized by the resident and usually are informed of the fire by a neighbor.

The fire chief said a typical chimney cleaning does not take much time, especially when done by a person who does it for a living.

Vandevoorde said with colder weather arriving, people should also check furnaces to make sure they are working properly and mentioned that a carbon monoxide detector in the home is a wise decision.

The importance of a carbon monoxide detector, he said, is to help residents realize a furnace is leaking or not working properly.

Vandevoorde also suggested that changing batteries in smoke detectors should be done once a year. Many people do this in conjunction with the end of daylight saving time, which is Nov. 4.