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House fire serves as important reminder to keep your chimney clean

Chimney fires are more common than you think
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Posted at 11:15 PM, Sep 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-10 01:15:14-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — With the arrival of cold temperatures a lot of us are doing something we haven't done in a while: turning on our fire places.

Unfortunately, there are dangers that can come with doing that.

Two people and two dogs are without a home in Colorado Springs after a fire heavily damaged their house Wednesday afternoon.

CSFD confirmed to News 5 a fireplace is to blame for that fire, and it serves as a good reminder of just how important it is to keep your fireplace in working order, before the cold sets in.

Michael and Alice Baer have only been in the game for a year.

"We've had quite a few interesting experiences," Michael Baer said.

But it didn't take long running their Midtown Chimney Sweeps franchise to realize, there's a lot people have to learn.

"We've responded to I would say 10-15 evidences of chimney fires," Baer said.

Chimney fires are way more common than you'd expect.

"About 70 to 80 percent of the population doesn't even know that they've had a chimney fire in the past," Baer said.

There are some tell-tale signs to know if you're one of those people.

"When a chimney fire occurs, it will leave vertical crack in your flue tile," he said. "We run into lots of chimney fires that never get reported and nothing ever is mentioned about them."

Wednesday afternoon, the issue showed how costly it can be.

"This afternoon we had a passerby on Centennial... thought they had fire in the treetops," said Lt. Fred Varnell with the Colorado Springs Fire Department.

But when firefighters got on scene, they didn''t find a tree on fire. Instead, a family's home.

"The chimney was involved at some point during the fire," Varnell said. "As you can tell it got into the roof rafters into the trusses, it burned the roof of of most of the house."

A side-effect of a season arriving, before its welcome.

"Obviously winter came a little early for us this year," Varnell said.

And before winter comes back to stay, it's a good idea to get your home in order.

"Every year have you chimneys inspected and have them cleaned," Varnell said.

Some other things you should be checking right now are Carbon monoxide detectors. Sometimes, snow buildup can block important exhaust vents and pipes in your house.

And even fireplaces can leak caarbon monoxide, which is why the Baers say it's now standard for home builders to install carbon monixde detectors in any room with a fireplace.