Caution urged as temperatures drop
Steamboat Springs — With four chimney and heater-related fires already this fall, Routt County fire chiefs are reminding residents to take precautions.
On Tuesday night, North Routt Fire Protection District firefighters responded to their second chimney fire of the season.
A neighbor and volunteer firefighters spotted flames coming from the chimney at the Willow Creek Pass Village home and helped get the residents out.
Firefighters arrived, and chief Mike Swinsick said they used a product called Chimfex to extinguish the fire. The product looks like a road flare and emits a dry chemical that helps consume the oxygen in the chimney and smother the fire.
Swinsick said the department’s volunteer firefighters carry the flares, which can be purchased from Steamboat Lumber.
If the flares do their job, firefighters do not have to spray water on the flames, which means there is no water damage.
Swinsick encouraged residents to make sure their chimneys are safe for fires. A buildup of creosote can lead to a fire.
“I’ve seen a six-inch chimney get choked down to four inches,” Swinsick said.
Improperly installed or malfunctioning heating devices can also lead to fires.
On Oct. 19, a family was eating dinner in a Dream Island Mobile Home Park trailer when they noticed an ember come down from a pipe on their wood stove.
Steamboat Springs Fire Marshal Doug Shaffer said the pipe was improperly installed and was near the trailer’s wood structure. Over time, he said, the wood dries out, leading to reduced ignition temperature.
“We see that from time to time with older installations,” Shaffer said.
In addition to cleaning chimneys, Shaffer said residents should also have their gas-burning heating devices checked.
Hayden resident Sharon Stone came home Oct. 7 to find the living room of the home she was renting engulfed in smoke and flames. The fire killed Stone’s two cats and destroyed nearly everything in her home.
West Routt Fire Protection District Chief Dal Leck said the fire started in a gas stove. Leck said he had not yet established what caused the fire.
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Sherry Burlingame never imagined herself as a chief of police.