Chimney fire put out near Altoona, firefighters tout inspections and cleaning

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EAU CLAIRE COUNTY, Wisc. (WEAU) - A cold Wisconsin winter means chimneys are likely in full use. But leaving them uninspected has already put some in danger this season.

A chimney fire broke out just east of Altoona Thursday morning.

The Eau Claire Township and Altoona Fire Departments were called to J. D. Holmes's house on Highway 12, Thursday morning, after smoke shot out of the building from a chimney fire.

Flames were put out quickly but firefighters said taking care of it in the cold was a challenge.

"Just getting access to the roof, if it's slippery, snow on it, we just want to take precautions so we're not injured climbing up on the roof. That's the biggest thing," Township Fire Lt. Mike Rudd said.

"We have protocols for chimney fires. Get someone on the roof and we have what are called soda bombs that we drop down into the chimney," he said.

Holmes said it's been more than a decade since the chimney was professionally cleaned. Something, chimney workers suggested inspections every year before burning wood.

Mike Denman with The Hearth Shoppe of Eau Claire said what people burn can be a difference maker also.

"Creosote ... That's got a real tarry look to it, inside your chimney. That's what goes up in flames. When you do not clean your chimney and that buildup gets to be real thick on your chimney system, you'll go up in smoke," Denman said.

"A fireplace is meant to burn wood and supply heat to a home. It's not for to get rid of your garbage."

He said it's not too late to get chimneys inspected or cleaned, which could save a home, or a life.

"You're looking at thousands of dollars compared to a couple hundred just to have your chimney cleaned and no worries."

Denman said at least two-year-old dry wood is the best to burn to avoid dangerous creosote buildup.

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