TEMPE, Ariz. - What started out as a warm fire in the fireplace ended with an entire chimney ablaze. The people inside the home had no idea until someone outside alerted them of the danger.
It is the perfect time to cozy up to a warm fire in the comfort of your own home. But the people in this Tempe house found out the hard way that even a fire confined to a fireplace can be dangerous. Warming up the house got out of control after their entire chimney went up in flames.
It's not unusual to have smoke coming out of your chimney, but it is alarming to have flames shooting out of it. That's what fire investigators say happened at this home on Tuesday afternoon. The people inside got out of the home and called 9-1-1.
"Luckily we did have a neighbor that noticed flames coming out of the chimney of the house.. since it was a fire that started in the fireplace the occupants didn't notice the fire had extended to the rest of the chimney," said Tempe fire investigator, Brandon Siebert.
You can see the extent of the damage to the chimney. The flames did not spread to the rest of the house, but these homeowners were lucky. Around this time every year, valley firefighters respond to several chimney fires. Last year, a home was heavily damaged because of one and the family that lived there was displaced on Christmas day.
A good reminder if you have a wood burning fireplace to get it cleaned.
"It's very difficult to tell the buildup and amount of buildup as well could be a concern," said Siebert.
It's the buildup in the fireplace that can catch fire without warning.
"We would all imagine a fireplace is a perfectly safe place to have a fire. The problem is if chimneys are not cleaned regularly, they can buildup and the diameter in the chimney can decrease and cause smoke to back up into the house," explained Siebert.
Firefighters recommend homeowners get their fireplaces checked by a professional once a year.