CHARLOTTE—Four people are now homeless Monday after a fire that started in a fireplace.
Investigators with the Charlotte Fire Department say chimney problems are a common problem this time of year. Monday's fire marks the eighth chimney fire in the Queen City so far this year.
"A quick call to 911 allowed the fire department to contain the fire to the roof and attic area,” said Capt. Rob Brisley of the Charlotte Fire Department, regarding the house fire on Jackson Drive.
The chimney fires are common and Brisley said although people are not thinking of heating sources while the sun is out during the day the temperatures drop at night.
"We're seeing at this time of year that the first time you use that chimney, you use that fireplace, is when you identify problems,” said Brisley.
As people begin to clean the gutters and work on the yard as the fall weather rolls in, the fire department recommends hiring a chimney sweep as well.
"It's just starting to get busy, the season's under way. It all depends on the weather, the weather's getting cool, so it's starting to pick up,” said chimney technician with 'A Clean Sweep' Mike Johannes.
According to the 2006 to 2008 estimates, the Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates there are nearly 27,000 residential chimney fires per year. That results in an average of 10 deaths, and $128 million in property loss.
"Fireplaces, as an appliance goes, it's probably the most overlooked area of the home. You can't see anything and people think since it's made of bricks and mortar, it's indestructible,” said Johannes.
There are some steps that homeowners can take, such as making sure they are burning wood that is completely dry. Wet wood leaves more creosote deposits in the flue of the chimney, but fire experts and chimney technicians say that is not enough.
"There's nothing like getting in there with water brushes and poly brushes and cleaning it out. That's the best thing you can do,” said Johannes.
They say the best action is to call in the profesionals to clean the chimney and help save lives.
"If you spend a little time and energy and the resources to make sure your chimney is working safely, you may not have to call 911 and that won't be a concern for you, or for us,” said Brisley.
The Chimney Safety Institute of America has a few tips to ensure people avoid any scams while hiring a chimney sweep. They recommend that people look out for pricing tricks, make sure to get several estimates, and check references and credentials with the BBB to avoid any falsified experience or certifications.