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Fire Wire: Burning wood safely could prevent a housefire

Published: Oct. 23, 2020 at 4:59 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - Winter is here -- and in the last few weeks temperatures around the Interior have dropped below freezing. Many Alaskans are firing up their wood stoves to help fight off the cold; but while they look inviting and produce plenty of heat, these stoves can also be a fire hazard, and homeowners should take steps to ensure they are burning safely.

ShaeLynn Erickson is the fire prevention officer at the North Star Volunteer Fire Department and encourages people to make sure their pipes are cleaned before they start a fire.

“A majority of our fires here in this area, and we get a lot of fires here at North Star, are chimney fires from improper installation, not cleaning them frequently enough, things like that," Erickson said.

She said that stove pipes should be cleaned and inspected at least once a year. Many fire departments around Fairbanks have a fire prevention program that lets residents in their service area borrow a chimney sweep so they can clean their pipes.

She said another common cause of wood stove related fires is improper disposal of ashes. She said that the ashes should be totally cool before you take them out of the stove and put them in a bucket or spread them in the yard.

After a fire is started, Erickson says to make sure that there is nothing that can catch fire around the stove.

She had a few more tips to ensure a warm winter around the fireplace.

“Just make sure you are burning the proper material -- no plastics, or metals or stuff like that. Make sure your wood is dry. Make sure that your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are serviced and checked," Erickson said.

North Star Volunteer Fire Department also has a program where they will go to people’s homes and do a safety check for free.

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