Chimney Fires

from the June 2010 edition of the Wilsonia Times


When you imagine yourself visiting your mountain cabin on a cool spring day, you may imagine a nice fire in the fireplace. The fire, warm and comforting, is a gathering place for families, friends, stories and music. The fireplace is also one of the most likely ways that a cabin can be destroyed.

The last two cabin fires in Wilsonia have been caused by fires escaping the chimney and going into the walls of cabins. The most recent fire was just a few days ago. The fire escaped the chimney and set fire to the interior of the walls around the fireplace. Fortunately, the Grant Grove Fire Brigade and the Hume Lake Fire Department were able to extinguish the fire while it was small.

The failure of a chimney is an insidious process. As the mortar between bricks, or joints in stove pipes, wear out, hot gasses and heat escape the chimney and cook the interior of the wall. As the process continues, the cracks become larger and more numerous, sparks escape the chimney and land on the super dry wood inside the walls, setting the cabin on fire.

Chimneys require maintenance, as they age they will need to be repaired. Chimneys need to be cleaned and inspected on a regular basis. Finding and recognizing defects in the structure of the chimney and keeping the chimney clean will prevent chimney fires and can prevent the loss of your cabin.

There are a variety of professional chimney sweeps in the area who are trained to properly clean and inspect your chimney.

Consider your cabin and what it means to you and your family. The fireplace is often a central feature of your cabin, don’t let it destroy your cabin.

Ned Kelleher
Kings District Ranger
(559) 565-4330


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