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As we head towards the autumn, it is the time of year when we start stocking up on coal, turf and timber for our fires and stoves. An open fire is a comforting focal point for a living room on a wet and damp Irish evening, but have you thought about the consequences of a chimney fire?

When you burn fuels in stoves and fires, the smoke from the fire deposits soot and tar along the inside of your chimney. This deposit is a fuel source which heats up as the hot smoke from the fire passes over it, and this is what ignites once it gets hot enough, causing a chimney fire. A chimney fire can reach upwards of 1000 degrees Celsius!

Chimney fires can spread into other rooms, or into your attic space, causing serious structural and smoke damage to your house and threatening you and your family. Even if it doesn’t spread out of your chimney, the damage caused to the chimney can be awkward and expensive to repair.

If you have had a chimney fire, you should have your chimney inspected by a professional to assess and repair any damage. Lighting another fire in a damaged chimney may put you at further risk of smoke and fire breaking out through damaged liners or flues.

So, before you start lighting fires again, we recommend that you have your chimney cleaned if you haven’t already done so.

If you do have a chimney fire, call out the fire brigade by ringing 112 or 999, so that there is the best chance of keeping it from spreading to the rest of the house.

Wait near the door for the fire brigade, in case the fire spreads and to direct them to your house when they arrive.

Keeping your chimney or flue swept and clean is also important in helping to reduce the possibility of Carbon Monoxide poisoning. Fit Carbon Monoxide alarms in any rooms where you have gas, oil or solid fuel burning. (Carbon Monoxide awareness week is from September 24th to 30th - More information on Carbon Monoxide is available from www.carbonmonoxide.ie or 1850 79 79 79)