The risk of a chimney fire increases when there is an excessive build up of coal soot or wood tar deposits in a chimney. When these deposits accumulate, they can heat up and eventually combust – causing a chimney fire.
You can tell if you have a chimney fire as you will often hear a roaring noise in the chimney, especially with an open fire. Lots of smoke will be bellowing out of the chimney, which will no doubt cause concern.
Sometimes you may even see flames coming from the top of the chimney – if this is the case, the fire would be nearing the end, having ignited lower down in the chimney and worked it’s way upwards.
What To Do:
1. Call the fire services on 999
2. Shut all the air vents and flue dampers if you have a stove. This will reduce the oxygen supply of a stove and help stop the spread of the fire.
3. Block the fire with something noncombustible if you have an open fire.
4. Ensure all furniture and flammable items are moved away from the fire.
5. Avoid pouring water on the fire.
6. Ensure the fire service can access the roof space
7. If there is a risk of the fire spreading to other parts of the roof, use a hose to wet the near by areas but not the chimney itself.
Prevention is far better than cure! You should ensure you have your chimney cleaned by a professional chimney sweep at least once a year. Also try and avoid certain wood, which produces lots of tar if you are using a wood burning stove. More about wood types can be read here.