Fire department warns of chimney fire dangers

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Canby firefighters were busy the end of November and early December attending to a series of chimney fires in the area. With temperatures dropping into single digits, the Canby Fire District is offering some tips on how to avoid being a victim of chimney fires. With the arrival of cold weather, Canby firefighters were called out three times within a week to battle home blazes started by chimney fires.

No one was injured in the fires, which occurred Nov. 27, 30 and Dec. 3. The fires caused $40,000 to $50,000 damage at each home, said Fire Marshal Todd Gary.

The first fire occurred about 1 a.m. Nov. 27 in the 2300-block of Lone Elder Road, the second at 3 a.m. Nov. 30 in the 10000-block of Macksburg Road and the third about 11:30 p.m. Dec. 3 in the 20000-block of Barlow Road.

About 25 firefighters battled each fire. Personnel from Molalla, Clackamas Fire District 1, Tualatin Fire and Rescue, Aurora and AMR assisted Canby firefighters.

The Macksburg Road home had no smoke alarms, Gary said. The two adults and teen-ager living there were extremely lucky. One of the family’s two dogs woke them up and alerted them to the danger.

The girl said she had been working with the dogs as service dogs, Gary said. They were trained to growl in this type of situation.

The dog came to the bed and was growling so she knew something was wrong, he said.

The three occupants, the two dogs and three cats safely evacuated the house.

All three fires started as chimney fires, he said. All three homes were older, farm-style dwellings, built in the early 1900s.

Homes in that era were not built with fire stops or fire blocks to prevent flames spreading from one area to another, he said.

With the start of cold weather and the need to use fireplaces or woodstoves, the Canby Fire District offers some reminders about fireplace safety.

Tips offer good way to keep chimney safe

Here are some tips from the Canby Fire District that will help keep chimneys safe during use this winter.

1. Get an annual chimney check. Have chimneys inspected annually and cleaned as necessary by a qualified professional chimney service technician. This reduces the risk of fires and carbon monoxide poisonings due to creosote buildup or obstructions in the chimneys.

2. Keep it clear. Keep tree branches and leaves at least 15 feet away from the top of the chimney.

3. Install a chimney cap to keep debris and animals out of the chimney.

4. Choose the right fuel. For burning firewood in wood stoves or fireplaces, choose well-seasoned wood that has been split for a minimum of six months to one year and stored in a covered and elevated location. Never burn Christmas trees, treated wood or wrapping paper in your fireplace or wood stove.

5. Build it right. Place firewood or fire logs at the rear of the fireplace on a supporting grate. To start the fire, use kindling or a commercial firelighter. Never use flammable liquids.

6. Keep the hearth area clear. Combustible material too close to the fireplace or a wood stove could easily catch fire. Keep furniture at least 36-inches from the hearth.

7. Use a fireplace screen. Use metal mesh or a screen in front of the fireplace to catch flying sparks that could ignite or burn holes in the carpet or flooring.

8. Install smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. Place Alarms throughout the house and test them monthly.

9. Never leave a fire unattended. Supervise children and pets closely around wood stoves and fireplaces.

10. Discard ashes in a closed metal container and place it away from the house until they have fully cooled.

More information can be found at

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