MAYPEARL — Two residents were displaced from their home after an unexpected fire broke out in the chimney on Tuesday. Firefighters were dispatched at about 10 a.m. in the 500 block of Angus Road to a reported structure fire.

“The residents were the ones that discovered it. It caught the attic on fire. Then burned up through the roof and vented out the top of the roof,” Ellis County Fire Marshal Tim Birdwell said. “ The residents were out of the house when fire crews arrived on scene.”

Birdwell said about 50 percent of the $300,000 structure received damage.

Responding to the call were members of the Maypearl, Forreston and Emergency Services District No. 6 Volunteer Fire Departments. Due to the lack of fire hydrants, water tankers shuttled water to the site. Members of the American Red Cross were called out to the scene to assist the displaced residents.

Birdwell said the cause of the fire was due to a buildup of creosote. Creosote is made up of condensed volatile gasses created by incomplete combustion of the wood, according to the Cornell Cooperative Extension Service. The National Fire Protection Association website states that creosote is the chief fire hazard in many heating systems that burn wood.

“As these gasses rise in the chimney, they cool, mix with water vapor, and form a tar-like substance that clings to the chimney walls,” the NFPA website stated. “The substance is highly combustible and is well known for its fire threat in chimneys above residential wood-burning fireplaces.”

Birdwell advises residents to have chimnies cleaned to prevent this hazard from building up. He also urges residents to have their chimney inspected to see if there are issues that need to be repaired.

The NFPA’s Home Fire Involving Heating Equipment report for 2016 states that from 2009-2014 there was an estimated annual average of 17,910 home structure fires involving fireplaces, chimneys and chimney connectors. These fires resulted in an estimated 30 deaths, 90 civilian injuries and $25 million in direct property damage each year.

According to a Daily Light article published Dec. 20, 2016, a fireplace fire also displaced five Palmer residents. Firefighters were dispatched at about 6 p.m. on Dec. 19, 2016, to the 100 block of Orr Circle. Residents attempted to put out the fire before the fire departments arrival but were unsuccessful. All five, two adults and three children, were able to evacuate from the home safely.

Emergency crews cleared the scene and returned to the station at about 1 a.m. on Wednesday.


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