New home fire in MA

PaulOinMA

Minister of Fire
Oct 20, 2018
881
MA
On the new this morning. New home. Fire suspected to be from wood stove. Will follow to see if there is a follow-up story.

"The newly constructed home belongs to an Acton firefighter ...

'Talking with the homeowner, it’s a new home. They actually just moved in, the second time using the wood stove, he did hear some crackling in the pipes in the chimney, and when he went up to investigate he already had smoke pushing down into the house,' Lancaster Fire Chief Michael Hanson said. "

Fire crews battle massive blaze at Lancaster home – Boston News, Weather, Sports | WHDH 7News
 

Caw

Minister of Fire
May 26, 2020
654
Massachusetts
Thats awful! I actually volunteer in Acton once a month...I see a lot of folks from around that area. Very curious what happened but I bet you're right about a bad install.

So insurance wise what would happen insurance wise if it was a self install and the marshal determines bad installation was the cause? Perhaps @bholler or another professional could weigh in. Would they not pay the claim?

That would be devastating to not only lose your home but still be on the hook for the full mortgage. This is why I had a professional install my stove. I'm sure I could have done it but I did not want to be responsible for burning my own home down. Too much to lose, both $$$ and family.
 
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mellow

Resident Stove Connoisseur
Jan 19, 2008
5,193
Salisbury, MD
That doesn't make sense, how can you get that much creosote (crackling) in 1 fire? Guessing 2nd fire ignited creosote? Just doesn't add up if you ask me. Sorry for the loss but glad to hear everyone made it out. I have had chimney fires in the past and it is no joke.

Guessing the hot embers must have landed on the roof or nearby and caught that part of the house on fire as well. I can't see if he had built a chase around the chimney or not.

More pics: https://www.telegram.com/story/news/2021/02/18/massive-four-alarm-fire-rips-through-lancaster-home/4498027001/
 

MAD MARK

Feeling the Heat
Jan 31, 2016
451
Pittsburgh PA
Not to be negative Nancy.

Glad they made it ok, but sounds like they needed a "change of view".

My opinion only.
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
23,533
central pa
That doesn't make sense, how can you get that much creosote (crackling) in 1 fire? Guessing 2nd fire ignited creosote? Just doesn't add up if you ask me. Sorry for the loss but glad to hear everyone made it out. I have had chimney fires in the past and it is no joke.

Guessing the hot embers must have landed on the roof or nearby and caught that part of the house on fire as well. I can't see if he had built a chase around the chimney or not.

More pics: https://www.telegram.com/story/news/2021/02/18/massive-four-alarm-fire-rips-through-lancaster-home/4498027001/
If it was the second fire it is very unlikely it was caused by a chimney fire. Much more likely faulty installation. Or a completely unrelated electrical fire or and number of other possibilities
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
23,533
central pa
Thats awful! I actually volunteer in Acton once a month...I see a lot of folks from around that area. Very curious what happened but I bet you're right about a bad install.

So insurance wise what would happen insurance wise if it was a self install and the marshal determines bad installation was the cause? Perhaps @bholler or another professional could weigh in. Would they not pay the claim?

That would be devastating to not only lose your home but still be on the hook for the full mortgage. This is why I had a professional install my stove. I'm sure I could have done it but I did not want to be responsible for burning my own home down. Too much to lose, both $$$ and family.
That depends upon the insurance company the policy and exactly what went wrong.
 

Caw

Minister of Fire
May 26, 2020
654
Massachusetts
That depends upon the insurance company the policy and exactly what went wrong.
Do you ever get called in on insurance claims as part of being a sweep? It seems like you'd be the expert in determining what went wrong with a stove in a disaster situation.
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
23,533
central pa
Do you ever get called in on insurance claims as part of being a sweep? It seems like you'd be the expert in determining what went wrong with a stove in a disaster situation.
We do yes. I have been an expert witness quite a few times
 

john26

Feeling the Heat
Oct 27, 2008
457
Wildwood MO
I wonder if it was truly crackling in the flue or popping from expansion?
 

PaulOinMA

Minister of Fire
Oct 20, 2018
881
MA
The Worcester Telegram & Gazette article above has been updated. States that "the cause is most likely related to the wood stove chimney. "

Also additional information on the fire.
 

MoDoug

Feeling the Heat
Feb 3, 2018
419
NE Missouri
Thats awful! I actually volunteer in Acton once a month...I see a lot of folks from around that area. Very curious what happened but I bet you're right about a bad install.

So insurance wise what would happen insurance wise if it was a self install and the marshal determines bad installation was the cause? Perhaps @bholler or another professional could weigh in. Would they not pay the claim?

That would be devastating to not only lose your home but still be on the hook for the full mortgage. This is why I had a professional install my stove. I'm sure I could have done it but I did not want to be responsible for burning my own home down. Too much to lose, both $$$ and family.
That is everyone's worse fear with a wood stove, I couldn't imagine it.

My insurance was ok with me installing my stove, as along as I installed to specs and had it professionally inspected and approved before using.

Thank you for volunteering
 

PaulOinMA

Minister of Fire
Oct 20, 2018
881
MA
My chimney guy argued with me when I told him I was pulling a permit with the town, as required, and getting it inspected. He said it was unnecessary.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
86,528
South Puget Sound, WA
A neighbor had a serious attic fire that took out 25% of their prior house. No attic insulation shield on the chimney pipe. The fire dept. suspected flammable debris had collected around the chimney pipe in the ceiling support box.
 

NoGoodAtScreenNames

Feeling the Heat
Sep 16, 2015
368
Massachusetts
Thats awful! I actually volunteer in Acton once a month...I see a lot of folks from around that area. Very curious what happened but I bet you're right about a bad install.

So insurance wise what would happen insurance wise if it was a self install and the marshal determines bad installation was the cause? Perhaps @bholler or another professional could weigh in. Would they not pay the claim?

That would be devastating to not only lose your home but still be on the hook for the full mortgage. This is why I had a professional install my stove. I'm sure I could have done it but I did not want to be responsible for burning my own home down. Too much to lose, both $$$ and family.
I work in insurance underwriting / pricing. Generally being dumb, outside of gross intentional negligence isn’t a reason to have a claim denied. For example, messing up the install may be “okay” but doing this is not.


More often poor DIY work may cause you to be non-renewed rather than denied a claim. However, lying to the company in a substantive way - something that would have changed the company’s decision to write you in the first place could cause a claim to be denied. Then good luck finding a new company when your insurance reports include a cancellation for fraud or misrepresentation.
 
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Zombie

Member
Dec 21, 2020
63
NC
I work in insurance underwriting / pricing. Generally being dumb, outside of gross intentions negligence isn’t a reason to have a claim denied. For example, messing up the install may be “okay” but doing this is not.


More often poor DIY work may cause you to be non-renewed rather than denied a claim. However, lying to the company in a substantive way - something that would have changed the company’s decision to write you in the first place could cause a claim to be denied. Then good luck finding a new company when your insurance reports include a cancellation for fraud or misrepresentation.
Holy crap, lucky no one got hurt there.
 

NoGoodAtScreenNames

Feeling the Heat
Sep 16, 2015
368
Massachusetts
I work in insurance underwriting / pricing. Generally being dumb, outside of gross intentional negligence isn’t a reason to have a claim denied. For example, messing up the install may be “okay” but doing this is not.


More often poor DIY work may cause you to be non-renewed rather than denied a claim. However, lying to the company in a substantive way - something that would have changed the company’s decision to write you in the first place could cause a claim to be denied. Then good luck finding a new company when your insurance reports include a cancellation for fraud or misrepresentation.
Not to kick the insurance horse more but be careful of white lies. For example:

Ins Co: “Did you Professionally install the stove?”

You on the application:”Yes”

You in your head: “I’m pretty handy and I followed all the codes and I even took the extra step of asking for help on Hearth.com and these installers are a bunch of hacks who I wouldn’t trust to smoke a cigarette on my lawn, much less install an uninsulated liner. So my install is more professional than anything a so called professional would do”.

Ins Co after claim: “So you lied on your application?”

You: “Ummm...”


I’ve also seen cases where a local agent answers questions on the customers behalf that turned out to be wrong and would be misrep if it came from the customer. Claims were paid to the customer since the burden of proof is high to deny, but it definitely delayed a payment while things were investigated. The company then sued the agent / their professional liability coverage to reimburse the claim. Lesson there is read the stuff you sign.
 

MoDoug

Feeling the Heat
Feb 3, 2018
419
NE Missouri
@NoGoodAtScreenNames My insurance was ok with me installing my stove, as along as I installed to specs and had it professionally inspected and approved before using. I was wondering, if in your experience, is that very common for insurance companies to do that?
 

NoGoodAtScreenNames

Feeling the Heat
Sep 16, 2015
368
Massachusetts
@NoGoodAtScreenNames My insurance was ok with me installing my stove, as along as I installed to specs and had it professionally inspected and approved before using. I was wondering, if in your experience, is that very common for insurance companies to do that?

Inspections for wood stoves are pretty common. DIY installs and other rules are up to each company. Really it depends on the experience of the underwriting manager. They generally don’t like to pay the same kind of loss twice in their careers if they can do something about it. They remember all the losses from lightning strikes but there’s not much you can do to predict where it will happen next. But they also remember the one time they wrote someone with a DIY install or an older roof, or an inground oil tank, paid a big loss and never want to explain why they let a second one get through their filters.

It’s all about the experience people have had. My company is probably one of the few that asks about the liner and differentiates the rules based a free standing stove vs an insert. That probably has something to do with a certain employee who visits hearth.com in his free time...
 
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