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Tips to prevent chimney and house fires

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By Stephanie DeCamp

Evergreen has seen five chimney fires this month — three in a 24-hour period — but chimney fires are among the most preventable, said Doug Saba with the Evergreen Fire Protection District.

Saba said that typically the need for cleaning or repairs is the culprit, and that chimneys should be inspected every year before cold weather sets in.

Also, proper disposal of ashes is important: The National Fire Protection Association advises they be transported in a metal container away from the home and left to soak for 12 hours.

Saba also stressed the need for warning devices.

"Early detection is the key to your safety," he said. "Everyone needs smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. They've been saving lives recently; we've gone on some carbon monoxide calls that have had very high, dangerous levels.

“Some of the older homes here have heating systems that have been failing; therefore, having a carbon monoxide detector is a must."

Some safety tips:

• Use dry wood that has been seasoned outdoors for at least six months.

• Keep all furniture and other items at least 3 feet away from a fire or space heater.

• Check to be sure your smoke and CO detector are working. If there is any doubt about the batteries, replace them.

• Turn off space heaters when leaving the house or going to sleep.

• Always keep a screen over fireplaces to contain sparks.

• Keep a fire extinguisher in the house. The closer it is to the location of a fireplace or source of flames, the better.