Derbyshire fire service issue safety reminder after two chimney fires

Derbyshire Fire and Rescue are reminding homeowners to keep chimneys clean, after crews dealt with two fires in one day.

Firefighters from Whaley Bridge and Buxton were called to a house off Start Lane, Whaley Bridge, in the early hours of Saturday, February 10.

Around 12 hours later, a crew from Bakewell dealt with a chimney fire on High Street, Pilsley, using thermal imaging cameras and specialist equipment.

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A spokesman for the service said: “This shows why it’s essential to maintain your chimney to avoid a chimney fire in your home.”

Chimney fires happen when soot or creosote deposits in the chimney catch light due to high temperatures or flames from a very hot fire extending into the outlet.

Warning signs include a loud roaring noise, sparks and flames appearing from the top of the chimney, a glowing or vibrating outlet or connector, and smoke or smells in adjoining rooms.

The spokesman said: “All chimney fires are extremely dangerous - internal flue temperatures can reach 1,100 degrees Celsius.

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“As a result, massive radiant heat is emitted through the chimney walls and, with the addition of a thatched or wooden roofs, a devastating house fire can start quickly.”

She added: “If there is no apparent damage to the outside of the chimney breast or flue, it is still highly likely that there is damage to the lining of the chimney.

“Chimney fires burn hot enough to damage liners, crack chimney walls and pots and damage factory-built metal chimneys.”

There are four main reasons which chimney fires break out: infrequent sweeping and cleaning; burning unseasoned wet wood; improper appliance sizing; and overnight burning or smouldering wood for long periods in wood burners.

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To reduce the risks, have your chimney swept regularly, buy only seasoned wood from reputable suppliers, choose a burner the right size for the room, and always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations on fuel loading.

These steps may be particularly important for insurance purposes on properties with thatched roofs, or for landlords with a duty of care towards their tenants.

For more information, including on how to identify a properly qualified chimney sweep, visit