Simple steps to stave off fire

Sechelt fire department

Christine Wood / Staff Writer
June 26, 2014 01:38 PM

Sechelt fire Chief Bill Higgs is cautioning the public to follow proper procedures when using varnishes and stains and to clean their chimneys regularly to stave off fire.

Sechelt fire Chief Bill Higgs is cautioning the public to follow proper procedures when using varnishes and stains and to clean their chimneys regularly to stave off fire.

This month the Sechelt fire department responded to two fire calls resulting from homeowner negligence.

One call came in on June 18 while firefighters were gathered for practice at the fire hall.

“A fellow had started a fire in his woodstove and he ended up with a chimney fire. The chimney fire dropped sparks onto his cedar roof and the cedar roof, since it’s been so dry lately, it started on fire,” Higgs said. “The occupant of the house was inside and he had no idea that his roof was on fire, but a person was walking by and saw it and called us.”

Firefighters were on scene at the fire on Anchor Road within six minutes, allowing them to knock down the blaze and save the home.

“It sill has significant damage, though, probably $30,000 to $35,000,” Higgs said.

The fire started because the homeowner’s chimney wasn’t clean, and that’s something that’s a simple fix, Higgs said.

He said chimneys should be cleaned once a year (or more if they are used regularly) by a WETT certified chimney sweep.

“Now’s a good time of year to do it. You don’t want to be doing it when everyone else is requesting it in November,” Higgs added.

The fire department also responded to a call that nearly destroyed a new home in the Sandy Hook area after some bunched up rags spontaneously combusted this month.

“They were staining some siding that they were going to put on the house. So they had it all laid out there on sawhorses, and the last thing they did before they left for the night was to stain these boards and then bundle up the rags and throw them out in a pile of trash,” Higgs said.

“In the middle of the night it caught on fire and the fire burnt this whole big pile of trash and the house was kind of out of the way, so no one could see it. It was brand new and no one was living there. So it burnt up the trash and then burnt up a portable washroom and it burnt up the side of a tree and it just about burnt up the house, but it ran out of fuel.”

In the morning someone walking by saw some smoke and called the fire department, which arrived on scene to make sure all the hot spots were extinguished.

The fire could have been easily avoided by proper rag disposal.

“Right on the can it says that it will do that and not to bundle up the rags and put them in the garbage,” Higgs said. “Linseed oil is not used as much as it used to be, but there are other derivatives that are put into the stains for siding and decks and fences so people need to make sure they lay those rags over something like a wire fence to dry. Don’t bundle them up and throw them in the trash, or  you’re going to have a fire.”

© Coast Reporter

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