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How do you know you are having a chimney fire?

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by RORY12553, Jan 22, 2012.

  1. RORY12553

    RORY12553 Minister of Fire

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    How do you know when you have a chimney fire? New to all this and want to know some signs.

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  2. pen

    pen There are some who call me...mod. Staff Member

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  3. JonP

    JonP Member

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    Two main signs are if you hear a roaring sound in your flue and if you see sparks (or fire) coming out of your chimney. I have, fortunately, never experienced one but I am a firefighter and these are things homeowners have reported when we arrive and things that some people on this site have described. The two main avoidance strategies are to burn only seasoned wood and to clean the chimney regularly.
  4. RORY12553

    RORY12553 Minister of Fire

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    I get a clicking sound every once in a while
  5. pen

    pen There are some who call me...mod. Staff Member

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    Perhaps remind you of the sound your car's exhaust makes after you shut it off? If so, it's just the metal expanding and contracting.

    In another thread someone described what to be concerned about as hearing sleet or hail coming down the pipe. I think that is a good description.

    pen
  6. DexterDay

    DexterDay Guest

    Is that the stove heating up?

    What stove do you have? Is it a Steel plate stove??

    Metal makes strange noises when it heats (expands) and cools (contracts).
  7. Trktrd

    Trktrd Feeling the Heat

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    I have a plate steel stove and yes, they do talk to you.
  8. swestall

    swestall Minister of Fire

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    One thing is that the smoke coming out (outside) will have a distinct smell to it, more like a chemical than regular wood smoke.
    And there may be a lot of it.
    The first thing to do is choke it down to starve it of oxygen. Many keep a Chimney fire supressant handy. It is a chemical that chokes the chimney fire. If you can choke it the outcome may be better than other methods as you may save the flue.
    It is always better to have a SS liner as they survive these incidents better.
    EPA stoves keep cleaner flues and are far less suceptable to creosote build up that causes C fires.
  9. eclecticcottage

    eclecticcottage Minister of Fire

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    I just read through that link and noticed this, which I am confused by "Never burn cardboard boxes, wrapping paper, trash or Christmas trees; these can spark a chimney fire ."

    Christmas trees? Are they actually refering to stuffing an entire tree in a fireplace?! Or the branches? I can see if you have creosote buildup, how that could, since those burn HOT.

    I have to say the idea of a slow burning chimney fire is kinda scary, since you probably woouldn't even know it was occuring....I didn't know that was possible, I figured once creosote got going it wouldn't be "slow burning".
  10. argus66

    argus66 Feeling the Heat

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    i kno a lot of people burn the stops of x-mass trees maybe they mean that.
  11. Swedishchef

    Swedishchef Minister of Fire

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    Everyone says that a chimney fire sounds like a train roaring. I just would like to point something out: my stove has a bypass damper. When I light the stove, I keep the bypass open. It helps warm the flu fast. However, you must close the damper once the fire is going decent. I usually keep it open for 4-6 minutes from the moment my supercedars take to my bar b q lighter. However, the odd time I have been dumb (left for 5 mins) and have come downstairs to that "roaring" sound. In my case, that sound is simply the dtrong draft pulling air like a pig through the stove "woomf woomf woomf". But that also means "close the bypass damper you a$$ before you burn your house down". And that is why they make the damper lever removable so kids can't play with it.

    IF you have flames coming out of your chimney, there's a fire. Large sounds that don't stop coming from the chimney even when the stove is turned down can be a fire...

    Good luck
    A
  12. n3pro

    n3pro Minister of Fire

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    I love what you find on Youtube sometimes.

    [youtube]http://youtu.be/6mmMlHngngU[/youtube]
  13. eclecticcottage

    eclecticcottage Minister of Fire

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  14. Fake coal burner

    Fake coal burner Member

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    Fake Christmas or real ones ?
  15. pen

    pen There are some who call me...mod. Staff Member

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    Cardboard burns very hot very fast and it's easy to fill a firebox w/ flames by burning it sending active flames up the flue, or just plain getting the flue too hot, and getting a chimney fire as a result. 3 of the last 3 chimney fires that acquaintances of mine had, were started by burning cardboard. Obviously, poor practices prior led to the cardboard starting the fire, but you get the idea.

    In many places folks don't have a way to dispose of a tree. To many, having a tree they can't get rid of and a fire (and probably a few drinks mixed in) ends up with a bad idea put into action.

    As far as a slow fire goes, best I can say is that it would depend on what type and how much creosote was in the chimney. Maybe if someone caught the stove over firing at just the right time and turned they air down enough that it could be possible to slow the stove and a chimney fire into the type they mention?

    pen
  16. neumsky

    neumsky Minister of Fire

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    What the hay??? I did'nt hear no sirens either. While all the while...he's videoing it. What a DA!
  17. albertj03

    albertj03 Minister of Fire

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    Put a thermometer on your stove pipe. If the needle moves really fast and redlines, you might be having a chimney fire.
  18. eclecticcottage

    eclecticcottage Minister of Fire

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    So they actually ARE talking about someone trying to stuff a tree in a fireplace? Yikes.

    I have to admit that when I was a kid we burned the wrapping paper in my grandparent's fireplace. Cardboard too. Dont ever recall anything about chimney fires there though.
  19. albertj03

    albertj03 Minister of Fire

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    I think they just mean that you shouldn't cut up your Christmas tree and use it as firewood. The reason this is not recommended is that by the time people take down the tree it's usually dry as a bone and they burn extremely hot and fast which coould easily set off a chimney fire if there is any creosote build up in the pipe or chimney. I've burned plenty of Christmas trees in my annual spring clean up brush fires and I'm always amazed at how fast they burn. I've seen them give off some really crazy greenish flames too.
  20. SmokeyCity

    SmokeyCity Feeling the Heat

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    Id like to see this turn into a top 10 signs that you are having a chimney fire.

    Ill start:

    #10: you look out the window and a crowd across the street is pointing at the top of your roof line.
    #9: OK 1 more.. and they are breaking out the marshmellows
  21. eclecticcottage

    eclecticcottage Minister of Fire

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    I partly agree. I wouldn't use the branches, especially with the needles still on them. However, the trunk should be fine-plenty of folks burn seasoned pine. Earlier in the article it mentioned seasoned was more important than species. Although if someone added some sort of preservative to the water when the tree was up...hm. Might account for the crazy flames.
  22. tcassavaugh

    tcassavaugh Minister of Fire

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    neighbors on the lawn with marshmellows.....:). all kidding aside, the noise, the smell, the sometimes roaring......and sometimes glowing at the top of the chimney or sometimes even embers spewing from it....you'll probably know.

    cass
  23. RORY12553

    RORY12553 Minister of Fire

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    Thank you to everyone who took the time out to make a post. I'm new to this and want to make sure i'm as knowledgeable as i can be about the hazards. Thank god i'm saving a lot on oil or else all this work wouldn't be worth it at all! LOL
  24. ozzy73

    ozzy73 Member

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    I would be curious to see a few pictures of stove/chimney that has gone through a chimney fire.
  25. Black Jaque Janaviac

    Black Jaque Janaviac Feeling the Heat

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    I have a VC Montpelier and it roars when the door is open. I just assumed this was the sound of flames getting sucked around the baffle and/or a very strong draft (20+ foot chimney).

    It sounds like it may be possible to have a chimney fire and not even know it. I take it then that it is possible that some chimney fires just burn out without much damage? Or am I wrong?

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