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Safety: Warning follows chimney fire

By Jason Lesley
Coastal Observer

When Midway Fire and Rescue Assistant Chief Jim Crawford rushed to a neighbor’s house reportedly on fire this week he found what firefighters dread: a homeowner on his roof with a garden hose.

“We want to caution people, that’s not a good idea,” said Midway Chief Doug Eggiman.

According to a fire report, the man got down safely and an engine was at the Hagley Estates address within 4 minutes to combat the blaze. “It’s that natural instinct that people have sometimes when they see their house on fire, whether it be on the roof or in the kitchen,” Eggiman said. “In some cases with an attic fire burning for some time, you may not realize that the fire you see has finally burned through that particular spot. There have been many cases of firefighters falling through roofs.”

Eggiman said firefighters work off aerial devices in the case of attic fires or stand on a support ladder instead of the roof. “In some cases you just don’t have any other option,” Eggiman said. “With our thermal imager we can see if the attic is engulfed in flames. Based on our training, reading the smoke conditions and knowing how fire behaves we know what we are faced with. If the attic is engulfed we couldn’t stand on top of a ladder supported by the ridge. We definitely caution people never to do anything more than what you are trained to do. Don’t put yourself in a position where you become a victim.”

Eggiman said the Hagley fire and one last week in River Club were both chimney fires. With the coldest weather of the winter in the forecast for the next few days, he cautioned people about building big fires in their fireplaces. “If you have a fireplace,” he said, “make sure you get it cleaned and inspected regularly by a professional. It’s worth it.”

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