EGG HARBOR TWP. -
As the weather in South Jersey turns cold and the winter chill sets in, more and more people will be lighting fires for the first time of the year.
"You just want to be safe - you don't want to end your season in a tragedy."
Brian Duffey is a firefighter and also the owner of Cinder-Fella Chimney Sweep in Egg Harbor Township.
Duffey told NBC40, "People forget about it. They think they don't have to worry about it, and then it goes from 50 degrees to 30 degrees and it's cold - so they want to light it up and they realize, 'Ah, I should have gotten it checked.'"
He says during the holidays there are certain safety measures you can take to avoid a fire spreading from your fireplace to the rest of your home.
Duffey said, "Make sure that the tree is away from the wood stove or fireplace, and don’t get it too close. Stockings…obviously you want to have a festive atmosphere, but you want to make sure you have a safe distance away from whatever fireplace you have."
Other firefighters in South Jersey also say once the holidays are over, sometimes residents decide to burn their trees, wreaths, and even wrapping paper, all of which are a bad idea.
Chris Baumgartel is a Margate Firefighter and said, "This time of the year, don't burn any of the pine that you may have. Do not put that in the fireplace on top of oak or anything like that, because if you do have creosote up and down the wall, the pine burns very hot and very fast and it will ignite the creosote that is on the walls. You don't want to have that happen."
Fire officials also urge residents to burn wood that has dried out for a year to 18 months to avoid leaving behind the resins that cause backups and smoke in your home.
Duffey said, "Nationally, I know there are 17,000 chimney fires a year, and that's the reported ones, so it's important to be on top of it."
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