A checklist needed for starting up the hearth in the fall? One homeowner forgot a step...

DAVID F. ASHTON - Crews arrived for a reported house fire which turned out to be a house full of smoke due to a closed flue damper in the chimney. The arrival of chilly fall weather has many Inner Southeast Portland families thinking of lighting a warm, cheery fire in their fireplaces or stoves.

A family living on S.E. 72nd Avenue near Lexington Street made that decision just after 1 p.m. on Saturday afternoon, October 6.

But they forgot something! And within minutes, their home was filled with thick acrid smoke, prompting them to call the 9-1-1 Center.

"The family built a nice fire in the fireplace, but forgot to open the flue damper in the chimney, and it really smoked up the house," Portland Fire & Rescue (PFR) Battalion Chief John Klum remarked to THE BEE.

Crews arriving from Woodstock Fire Station 25 didn't need to pull in a water line; all it took to fix the problem was putting on an insulated glove, and a firefighter then reached in to open the flue damper – while other crewmembers set up portable high-velocity fans to air out the house.

"We are, indeed, coming into the season for warming fires," Klum agreed. "But before you light your first fire this fall, consider having your fireplace or stove checked, and chimney cleaned – and, do remember to open the flue damper first."

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