Friday, December 29, 2017

Wax fireplace log misuse likely cause of apartment complex fire

A chimney fire on December 16, 2016 in Harrisonville, Missouri spread to six buildings and left 27 people homeless.

Firefighters were initially called to building 2205 at Twin Oaks Apartments on the afternoon of the 16th when a tenant had a chimney fire after burning a compressed wax log. The fire department left the scene, and shortly afterwards neighbors noticed smoke coming from the roof, which then erupted in flames. The fire had escaped the chimney and spread to nearby combustible roofing.

The fire spread to five buildings and forced 59 people to flee their homes. It took hours for the fire department to put the fires out. One building was destroyed, and five others were damaged. No statements have been issued regarding the cost of the damages.

The Midwest Chimney Safety Council recommends that all chimneys and fireplaces have regular annual maintenance completed by a professional CSIA Certified chimney sweep. Creosote is highly flammable and when ignited by a spark can create a fire throughout the flue which can spread to the roof or nearby combustible framing.

Directions on compressed logs state that after placing a log on a grate, to light the paper it is enclosed in, and not to poke the log. Poking can cause a flare up or fireball, which can ignite creosote in the flue. The MCSC recommends that people closely follow directions when burning wax logs or an uncontrollable fire can result. The MCSC recommends never burning anything in a fireplace or wood stove other than dry cordwood.

Contact Marge Padgitt, MCSC president at 816-461-3665 for more information.  


Chimney Safety Warning During Arctic Blast

The Midwest Chimney Safety Council issued a warning today to safely operate and maintain wood and gas heating appliances during periods of bitter cold in order to avoid fire or carbon monoxide poisoning.

December 29, 2017
Kansas City, Missouri

The National Fire Protection Association statistics indicate that there are 245,000 house fires annually caused by heating equipment such as wood-burning stoves and fireplaces. The Midwest Chimney Safety Council believes that this number is only a fraction of the actual statistics based on findings by chimney sweeps who service chimneys.

The NFPA states that there are 72,000 deaths caused by Carbon Monoxide exposure annually.  
During periods of very cold weather more accidental fires and CO poisoning occur. The Midwest Chimney Safety Council recommends that homeowners take measures to assure the safety of their family by following these recommended guidelines:

  •    Do not use an open fireplace for heating purposes. Fireplaces are decorative appliances to be used for ambience only. Over use of an open fireplace can cause hidden combustibles in the walls or framing around the fireplace to ignite and cause a house fire. This applies to manufactured fireplaces and masonry fireplaces.
  •    Do not leave a wood-burning stove or fireplace unattended.
  •    Do not burn hedge, dry pine, or a Christmas tree in a fireplace or stove. These woods burn very hot and fast, and can cause a chimney fire.
  •    Do not burn treated wood or colored paper in a fireplace or stove. These items create toxic fumes which can cause illness or death.
  •    Don’t burn anything other than dry cordwood or pallet wood in a fireplace or stove.
  •    Have a fireplace inspected and swept annually by a professional CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep. Sweeping removes flammable creosote from the smoke chamber and flue liner. Have a wood-burning stove or insert swept twice per year.
  •    Keep the accumulation of flammable creosote down by using a product like Anti-Creosote Spray each time a fire is burned.
  •    Place ashes in an ash bucket and take outside to cool off with the lid on the bucket on a non-combustible surface before disposing of them or putting them in the garden. Ashes and embers can smolder for up to two weeks.
  •    Have furnace, boiler, or water heater flues inspected annually by a professional chimney sweep to assure that the flue is not clogged by nests or debris, is sized correctly, and does not have cracks or voids which can cause Carbon Monoxide backup into the home. Even low levels of CO not detectible by a CO detector can cause illness and permanent brain damage.
  •    Do not ignore a CO detector alarm- CO is colorless, odorless, and tasteless so there is no way a human can detect CO.
  •     Be sure to install new batteries and assure proper operation of smoke detectors. Install at least one smoke detector on each level of the house, including in the attic near the chimney.
·       In case of a chimney fire or CO alarm, get out of the house and call the fire department immediately.

The Midwest Chimney Safety Council is a 13-state regional association which provides educational classes and workshops to chimney and hearth industry professionals and the public.  

Contact Marge Padgitt, President of the MCSC at or 816-461-3665 or contact one of the MCSC members listed on the website for more information.