State public safety officials are reminding Iowans who have a wood burning fireplace in their home to have it inspected by a professional. State Fire Marshal Jim Kenkel says keeping the chimney clean and the exhaust system in good condition could prevent a disaster.
“Over a period of time, the chimney has a tendency to wear out and get holes in it, so that’s why it’s important to have it checked so that the heat going up the chimney doesn’t extend out into the combustibles that surround it,” Kenkel said. A fire in Cedar Rapids over the weekend that caused significant damage to a home is blamed on problems with a fireplace.
Kenkel says chimneys should be inspected and, if necessary, cleaned at least once a year. Kenkel also recommends that fireplace users burn only dry wood. Wood that’s burned when wet can accelerate creosote buildup in the chimney. Creosote is a chemical substance that forms when wood burns and can cause a chimney fire if not removed through cleaning.
The fire in Cedar Rapids was reported early Sunday morning. The owners of the home were alerted by working smoke alarms and escaped without injury.