Elderly Cedar City woman’s chimney goes up in flames

Cedar City home with chimney fire becomes a lesson to the unaware, 397 N. 400 West, Cedar City, Utah, Jan. 20, 2016 | Photo by Carin Miller, St. George News

CEDAR CITY — The Cedar City Fire Department responded to the home of an elderly Cedar City woman Tuesday night after receiving a report about a chimney fire. Though the fire was quickly extinguished, firefighters say it is a good lesson in the importance of regular chimney service.

Firefighters were dispatched to a home on the 300 block of North 400 West at 6:15 p.m. Tuesday on reports of a chimney fire with flames that were climbing into the night sky, Fireman Jordan Smith said.

Though the flames grew high, he said, they remained contained within the chimney structure itself and did not spread into the home. Once the Fire Department arrived, the fire was under control and extinguished within eight minutes.

“It smoked up the house pretty good,” Smith said. “But it never extended out of the chimney.”

The fire was caused by a soot buildup in the flue called creosote that got hot enough to ignite, he said.

Fires like these are not uncommon during winter months, Smith said. It is important for residents who consistently use their fireplace in the winter to have their chimneys serviced several times throughout the season, he said, especially in homes that use fire as a source of heat.

Creosote builds rather quickly, Smith said, and depending on the type of firewood used, in some cases it could build faster than usual.

“That creosote is burning at over a thousand degrees,” Smith said, explaining how quickly a creosote fire can spread. “So it has the potential to escape through any little crack and get into your framing and your house insulation and things like that.”

The woman who lives in the home is on a fixed income, neighbor Mark Heaton said. She cannot afford to pay to have her chimney serviced, let alone to have it done multiple times in a year, he said, adding that the woman has no extra funding for utilities either, so the fireplace is her only source of heat in the winter.

Heaton said he knows this because he has had many conversations with her about the topic.

“The problem is that as a community we really need to help these elderly people,” Heaton said. “She is just a really nice lady and she doesn’t have anybody to do these things for her.”

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

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