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Chimney fire spreads two days after homeowners lit fireplace

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COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS, Utah (ABC4 News) A family of four is out of their home after an early morning house fire Friday.

Fire investigators said it’s a good reminder to inspect and clean chimneys at least once a year.

Unified Fire Authority, Murray and Sandy fire departments responded to 7953 Titian Way around 2:00 a.m. after a neighbor smelled smoke and called 911.

Investigators believe the fire started in the chimney and spread to the attic, roof, and inside the walls.

A woman who lived inside the home told ABC4 News that the family lit a fire on Wednesday night. Even though the fire was out, investigators said the soot build up in the chimney ignited and spread Friday morning.

“It’s not completely unheard of. The heat builds up in the chimney and if you haven’t cleaned the chimney, it will radiate to the roof structure and trusses in the attic. That’s what we have here today,” Unified Fire Battalion Chief Steve Provokis said.

The family had active smoke detectors but they did not go off because the fire was contained to the walls and attic.

The homeowner, who wished to remain anonymous, said she didn’t know something was wrong until the lights flickered and went out.

“The buildup of soot in a chimney can catch fire. If that happens, you may not know it for a while,” Battalion Chief Provokis said.

Fire officials urge homeowners to have their fireplace cleaned and inspected annually.  

Older metal chimneys, like the one in Cottonwood Heights, pose a particular risk of fire, according to David Wheeler, owner of Specialized Chimney Repair.

“A pipe can be compromised and you don’t know it before it’s too late,” Wheeler said. 

While built-up soot in chimneys can catch fire, the bigger risk, according to Wheeler is the condition of the metal chimney pipe itself. An aging pipe can split, giving fire direct access to the home. 

“With that chase cover, it’s all wood framing so you’re really relying on that metal pipe so it’s a good idea to have it checked every year,” Wheeler said.  

No one was hurt. American Red Cross is helping the displaced family.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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