Texoma seeing increase in fires due to dirty chimneys

The fire department is seeing an increase in fire calls, particularly in people's attics. (Source: Raycom Media)
The fire department is seeing an increase in fire calls, particularly in people's attics. (Source: Raycom Media)

WICHITA FALLS, Tx (RNN Texoma) - There are over 20,000 chimney fires in the United States each year. That's why even though the latest cold snap has left Wichita Falls, people are still using those fireplaces, and the Wichita Falls Fire Department wants everyone to keep an eye on their chimneys.

The fire department is seeing an increase in fire calls, particularly in people's attics.

In January they have seen double the amount of house fires, and have seen four just this past week. They're not the only ones seeing the increase.

"We're 24/7 365," ServiceMaster's Courtney Smith said. "We have plenty of people on staff. We work as many hours as we need to because we need to get our customers taken care of in any kind of disaster situation."

ServiceMaster is also working hard to clean up from chimney fires all throughout Texoma. They are seeing three times the amount of business than normal.

"I've seen where a chimney blew up on top of a house and all the bricks came back down inside the house," Smith said.

She and WFFD Fire Marshal Jody Ashlock encourage people to have their chimney's cleaned every year.

"It's something that you really should pay attention to," Smith said. "A lot of people don't because it's a fireplace and you've used it for years and years. But like everything else, you need to keep it maintained."

"They need to be checked for cracks and leaks," Ashlock said. "Things like that will allow the flame and heat to get out of that flue and cause attic fires."

Ashlock said creosote buildup can also cause fires and closed chimney flue's can lead to carbon monoxide in your home.

If you clean your chimney it could be the difference between life and death.

"Unfortunately there are people that will pass away from situations like that," Smith said. "Your pets lungs are really sensitive to fire."

"All it requires is a little maintenance, a little bit of money, and a little time," Ashlock said.

If your chimney does catch fire, Ashlock said to close the flue to your chimney so the fire won't spread to your roof. Then call the fire department.

Smith said ServiceMaster will help anyone who needs their house and chimney cleaned after a fire.

If you smell anything weird coming from your fireplace, the WFFD encourages you to call the fire department. Ashlock said they would rather respond to nothing that not respond to something.

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