Updated Wed., Jan. 18 5:00 pm
On Wednesday afternoon the Tisbury fire department answered a call from 117 Daggett Avenue in Vineyard Haven, where a chimney was on fire. Doug Rhein, who has resided at the home for 15 years, came home from work, lighted a fire in his wood stove, and noticed smoke billowing down the street. He immediately called the fire department, and 10 minutes later he was standing outside in the rain, as firefighters scaled his house to fight the fire.
In 2015, there were 689 fire incidents involving chimneys, fireplaces, and woodstoves in Massachusetts, according to the state Department of Fire Services. The fires were responsible for one civilian injury and one firefighter injury, and caused $3.9 million in property losses.
“I would recommend that if people are using wood stoves they should have their chimney and stoves inspected and cleaned regularly,” said Assistant Tisbury Fire Chief Joe Tierney.
A state-issued brochure reports that most chimney fires occur due to a buildup of creosote, a tar-like byproduct of burning wood. Fire Services recommends that homeowners have a chimney flue cleaned before each heating season, and burn only dry, well-seasoned hardwood to reduce creosote accumulation.
The fire services department also recommends that a chimney and flue be inspected by a qualified mason every year prior to use. Cracks in the flue or mortar joints can allow flames and heated gases to extend into the structure.
On Daggett Avenue, firefighters extinguished the blaze in under two hours, and Mr. Rhein pondered his chimney. “2017 is off to a bad start,” he said. “I turn 56, I need a new hip, my house is on fire, but otherwise things are great.”