CORNWALL’S fire chiefs are urging people to keep their chimneys swept after crews attended seven chimney fires yesterday.
The last incident occurred at Lanlivery, Bodmin, at around 9.30pm last night, and saw firefighters use a special pump and rods to extinguish the flames.
There were also chimney fires at properties in Holsworthy, Liskeard, Marazion, St Ives, Tregony and Redruth earlier in the day.
A spokesman for Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service said crews were called out to several hundred such fires a year in the county – and most could have been prevented.
He said the ‘credit crunch’ meant more people were using open fires and wood burners in a bid to slash their electricity, oil and gas bills.
The spokesman said: “Most chimney fires are preventable. Regular inspection and cleaning of chimney flues will help prevent fires within chimneys.
“We are urging anyone who plans to light their fire this winter to get it swept first. The cost of a chimney sweep is very small, approximately £30, when compared to dealing with the damage and cost of repair from a fire.”
He said homeowners should follow simple rules to stay safe: sweep the chimney before use; ensure a fireguard is in front of the fire at all times; extinguish the fire before going to bed or leaving the house; never use petrol or paraffin to light a fire; make sure smoke alarms work.
Coal fire chimneys should be swept twice a year, or once a year for smokeless fuel, while wood burning fires need sweeping four times a year when in use, he said. Gas and oil fire chimneys should be swept once a year.
Latest statistics show that there are approximately 6,000 chimney fires a year in England.