Chimney fires break out in St. George as temperatures drop

Southern Utah

ST. GEORGE (ABC4 News) – As temperatures drop and families light their first fires of the season, St. George firefighters say now is the perfect time to inspect and clean out fireplaces after crews responded to two chimney fires Thursday night.

Authorities say the culprit in both fires was creosote, or buildup, from chimneys that hadn’t been cleaned out for several years. Creosote can look like stick tar or flaky residue and easily ignite, spreading flames to attics and extending into the structure.

St. George Fire Department Deputy Chief Kevin Taylor, a 25-year firefighter, said he’s seen countless chimney fires and recommends that homeowners at minimum inspect their chimneys every fall and clean them every one to two years.

“These fires can burn intensely hot and crack flue liners. It’s a roaring sound,” Taylor said. “Instead of smoke come out of that chimney, it’s a large amount of flames.”

Cobwebs and cracked or missing bricks are just a few other common concerns — Taylor said he’s seen many residents cause fires by throwing away used charcoal in flammable containers.

“Those embers and coals can stay hot for days,” Taylor added. “If you clean those out, we recommend you put them in a metal container away from the home.”

Fire officials said inspectors can also make sure smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are working properly on every level of the home.

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