Letter Re: Our Experience with a Chimney Fire

Dear James,
I have been a Survival Blog reader and Ten Cent Challenge subscriber for about a year or so. Thanks for all you do. The advice I read in SurvivalBlog from a rural firefighter — to keep on hand a 10 pound bag of baking soda to throw on the fire in case of a chimney fire — just came in handy!

My husband and I were just enjoying our first fire of the year in our brick masonry fireplace. We have our chimney cleaned about every three years. I was upstairs and my husband called out “we’re having a chimney fire!” — he had heard roaring despite a small, calm fire in the fireplace. We looked outside at the flue to see fireworks, threatening to set a nearby tree on fire.

We almost called the fire department, then I remembered about how to put our a chimney fire from SurvivalBlog by throwing baking soda on the fire in the fireplace. The chimney fire went out immediately! We were spared an embarrassing visit from the local fire department, our tree catching on fire and possibly setting our house and neighborhood on fire.

Now we are facing an expensive flue relining job because the creosote burning at 2,500 degrees cracked all the flue tiles. The cracked tiles exposed the frame of the house to fire risk. We are told that insurance may help pay for the repair.

Bottom line: It is wood burning season, have you had your stove or fireplace checked and cleaned? Do you have trees and shrubs trimmed properly around your house? Do you have 10 pounds of baking soda handy? We consider ourselves lucky. Keep up the good work on survival blog. Thank you, – Louise in Colorado

JWR Replies: Thanks for that reminder. Chimneys should be cleaned at least once a year, or even more often if you burn wood often, or if you burn wood that creates copious creosote. It is important to learn how to clean it yourself, and buy your own chimney rod sections and brush. After all, chimney cleaning tradesmen won’t be available in a worst-case societal collapse.