Chimney Fire Payson

Payson firefighters put out a chimney fire that started in a mason chimney in October of 2019.

As the temperatures drop, more homeowners are firing up their pellet stoves and fireplaces to warm their homes.

But before you do, check the chimney for built up soot and cracks.

While you hear about fires starting because of grease, Christmas lights, space heaters, candles and smoking, add dryer vents and chimneys to that list, said Kris McMillan owner of Rim Country Chimney Doctor. McMillan inspects and cleans chimneys and dryer vents and works with homeowners on smoke detector placement.

“The more smoke detectors, the better the chance for a safe escape,” he said.

And after that escape, it is important to have a meeting place.

Having a well-established meeting place ensures everyone is accounted for in case of a fire. McMillan has heard too many stories of family members dashing back into a burning home to save a family member — when all along they were in the backyard.

Reports from firefighters show most people only have seconds to get out of their home during a house fire. With most building materials converting to petroleum based plastics, fabrics and furniture, fires can engulf homes within minutes.

“It gets confusing during a fire,” said McMillan

He suggests meeting at the base of the driveway.

“That way the fire trucks can see you’re OK,” he said.

When McMillan examines dryers and chimneys, he looks for blockages and buildup.

With chimneys, “it’s all about the wood,” said McMillan.

Juniper is the worst followed closely by pine as the most creosote/pitch dense type of woods. Those creosotes vaporize, then form a coating along the walls of chimneys.

Those creosote vapors also clog spark arrestors on chimney pipes.

McMillan suggests using oak, cutting it small and only using more pitch dense woods as a starter.

Mason fireplaces pose the greatest risk of creosote buildup, said McMillan, but pipes with spark arresters can build up creosote, too.

“If you can’t see through the mesh at the top of your spark arrestor, call me,” he said.

With dryers, dryer sheets can create a buildup.

McMillan said dryer sheets use wax to hold scent to the sheet. When that wax melts in the heat, it can clog the filter.

McMillan can clean away the gunk and, as a bonus, the dryer works more efficiently, which saves on energy costs, he said.

For more information, contact the Rim Country Chimney Doctor at 928-202-9752.

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