Kent Fire and Rescue Service (KFRS) has issued a warning following a series of fires across Kent and Medway this weekend involving chimneys and flues.
Since Friday (26 February) there have been six call outs involving wood burners or open fires that were caused by either a build up of soot or a fault with flues.
Yesterday morning (28 February) firefighters attended a fire caused when heat from a metal flue for a wood burning stove ignited wooden rafters and battens at a property in St Anns Green Lane, Marden. Two fire engines and a height vehicle were required at this incident and fire crews tackled the blaze from inside and outside of the property, using the height vehicle to expose hotspots in the roof.
Crews were also called out to a fire in a roof of a house in Bridgewell Park, Whitstable on Friday evening (26 February) after fire spread from the flue of a wood burner to timberwork and facia to the roof structure of the property. Two fire engines were sent to the scene and crews extinguished the blaze using a hose reel. It is believed that a poorly installed wood burning stove led to the fire.
There were two chimney fires on Friday evening, one in Grain Road, Middle Stock just after 5pm and another in Reynolds Lane, Tunbridge Wells at 8.43pm. At both incidents crews used chimney gear to put out the fire and a thermal imaging camera to check for fire spread. Both fires are believed to have been caused due a build up of soot in the chimney.
Firefighters also dealt with a two further chimney fires in Swattenden Lane, Cranbrook on Saturday (27 February) just after 5pm, and in Birling Road, West Malling on Sunday (28 February), both caused by a build up of soot.
KFRS Area Manager John Robertson said: "As the cold weather continues, many residents are using open fires and wood burning stoves to heat their homes, but the incidents over the weekend highlight the real risk of a fire breaking out, either due to a build up of soot or ash in the chimneys, heat spread from damaged chimney breasts or poorly fitted wood burning stoves. Fortunately no one was injured as a result of these incidents, however such fires can cause considerable damage and present a real risk to life.
"To prevent fires of this type, I would urge all residents with wood burning stoves to ensure the flues are properly installed, insulated and keep clean. If using an open fire ensure the chimney is regularly swept, checked and well maintained. I would also recommend that residents sign up to our clean sweep alert, to receive a reminder to have your chimney swept."
To sign up to KFRS chimney sweep alert visit: http://www.kent.fire-uk.org/news/campaigns/clean-sweep-alert/
For further fire safety advice visit call 0800 923 7000 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.