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Aug 27, 2015
Vancouver Island
Chilly spring night and just wanted to quickly heat the little Jotul in the living room. Running it wide open, which I normally do without trouble, filled with arbutus (madrona), which I normally do without trouble. But I didn't account for the fact that the wood's been sitting indoors, and was both warmer and dryer than I have before.

Well, I wasn't paying super close attention, trying to get the stove up to about 450 or so on the stovetop thermometer before tamping it down (often it's a struggle to get even there, and even with the arbutus).

Then I get that 'high score' smell from the stove paint. Go to turn it down, and the thermometer reads about 500. But what's that in the corner of the top by the pipe outlet? A dull red glow.

I tamped the stove right down and take a picture:


Then I notice there's a dull glow coming down from up the chimney...


The pic doesn't quite do it justice. It seemed a lot more bright and yellowish than then red on the top of the stove.

Checked outside, no chimney fire. Thankfully the stove began to cool right away and the glow was gone in under a minute.

Lessons Learned

1. Pay attention to your stove, even after you think you've got it dialed in after a whole season with it.

2. Don't trust your thermometer, unless you know its reading accurately, and at the hottest part of the stove. (A quality IR thermometer is on its way, so I can find this spot and make sure the stove-top is accurate).

3. Don't underestimate the power of arbutus.

Anything else I should consider for the future?
If running the stove wide open means with the air control wide open, don't do that. It will reduce or eliminate secondary combustion in the firebox where you want it and transfer all the heat up the flue. That liner just aged a decade or two.
I think he was running it open till it got up to temp, then he cuts it back if I read right. Just got away from him.
Yes, I had this happen to me once in late winter this year. With our mild outdoor temps the stove would often be below 200F with just enough coals for restart in the morning. Watching flue vs stove temps closely and found that with nice dry wood I was often turning down the stove air with the stove body not yet to 300F, yet the flue (probe) temp was already over 600F. There was one day where I got distracted and waited too long. With dry wood this can be just a few minutes difference. By the time I got to it, the stove top was only up to 500F but the flue was over 1100F. :oops: It started getting that very hot paint smell and I imagine was starting to glow red inside the double-wall stove pipe. Didn't like seeing that at all. I try to always stay with the stove or set a timer to check on the stove in 4-5 minutes.
With a glow like that coming from above the block off plate there's no doubt in my mind that you we're having a flue fire. You might not have had enough fuel in there to see flames shooting out the top or maybe you just caught it soon enough.
Yes i agree with webby that was a chimney fire for sure. Have it checked out really well for any damage.
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Yes, flue temps can climb very quickly. That's one reason we advocate a flue thermometer and keep an eye on it until things have settled. The other reason is that any heat that is not necessary for draft is wasted.
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I haven't had this happen yet, but I have had things almost get away from me.

You get yourself into a pattern of when to do this and when to do that, the problem is that the wood changes and the outside temps change...and that throws your timing all off.
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