Chimney Fires

On average in the UK there are 30000 chimney fires in domestic properties each year.

Chimney fires which can burn at temperatures in excess of 1000 deg C generally do not stay confined within the flue for long and can quickly affect other areas of the property in number of ways which include:

  • The intense heat within the flue causing the lining to fail
  • Spreading to structural timbers via a damaged flue lining.
  • Smoke percolating through a damaged lining may spread throughout the property leading to extensive damage and danger to life.
  • Burning embers from the chimney pot affecting the original property as well as surrounding properties.

What causes chimney fires?

When solid fuels are burnt the emissions are expelled into the chimney. As these gases rise they cool down, forming creosote – a tar like substance that sticks to your chimney or chimney lining. Creosote is extremely flammable and can be lit by even a small spark from the fire below. The following are the most common causes of chimney fires:

  • Burning wet or unseasoned wood can increase the production of creosote
  • Burning rubbish such as paper and cardboard allows lighted debris to enter the flue
  • Blockages in your chimney which restrict air flow
  • Smouldering wood embers for long periods of time
  • Failing to have your chimney swept often enough

How to tell if you have a chimney fire?

  • You will often hear a loud roaring noise in the chimney, especially with an open fire.
  • Large volumes of smoke and sparks will be seen issuing from the chimney.
  • The fire will work its way up the flue and when it approaches the top you will see flames coming out of the pot
  • Following a chimney fire the flue should always be thoroughly inspected and swept.

If you suspect that you have a chimney fire:

  • Call the Fire and Rescue service immediately
  • Alert other persons who may be in the building
  • Evacuate the premises
  • Do not go back inside the premises until told that it is safe to do so by the Fire Service

Most chimney fires are preventable simply by regular inspection and

Clean chimneys don’t catch fire!

avon fire and rescue

Visit the Avon Fire & Rescue website for further advice on fire safety in the home