Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service has tackled four chimney fires over the last 24 hours, two in Somerset and two in Devon: at Doccombe, near Moretonhampstread and at Cotleigh, near Honiton.
All the fires were extinguished successfully with no major damage to property and no-one harmed. The cause in each case was poorly maintained chimneys or chimney flues, including one chimney that was blocked.
The fire service only last week issued recommendations about chimney maintenance. In a statement, they said:
"Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service remind you to make sure your chimneys are as safe as possible throughout the coming winter months.
Chimneys need to be dirt free to allow the free passage of dangerous combustion gasses, so regular cleaning will remove soot and creosote, and help prevent dangerous chimney fires. Make sure your chimney is swept regularly by a registered chimney sweep.
Check that your chimneys and flues are clean and well maintained and free of any blockages like bird nests and cobwebs. The chimney breast itself will need inspecting, particularly in the roof space, making sure that it is sound and that sparks or fumes cannot escape through cracks or broken bricks."
In general, stoves need to maintained depending on the type of fuel used. The following sweeping frequencies are provided as a guide by the fire service:
Smokeless coals - At least once a year
Wood - Up to four times a year
Bituminous coal - Twice a year
Oil - Once a year
Gas - Once a year