The State Fire Marshal’s Office says an unexpected consequence of this winter’s relatively warm temperatures may be a buildup of creosote in Maine chimneys.

Gord Horne

Fire Marshal Joe Thomas said creosote buildup in chimneys is accelerated by slow burning fires and because of the warmer temps, many homeowners have not been burning their wood stoves and fireplaces as hot as they normally would during the winter months.

Thomas went on to explain the concerns:

Maine homeowners need to be mindful that creosote buildup could be accelerated this winter which might result in a chimney fire.”

Thomas said the most common indication of a chimney fire is a loud roaring sound from the chimney, usually with dense smoke and an intense hot smell.  The Fire Marshal said at the first hint of a chimney fire, homeowners should get out of the house and call the fire department immediately.

Thomas said chimneys should be inspected annually, but few such services are available during winter months because of the weather and roof conditions.  He recommended  creosote burning logs or powder can be used to help reduce the buildup of creosote.  Though not a replacement for a good brush cleaning, the products may help to keep creosote buildup to a safer amount.