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Chimney fire causes $60K in damage



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Oxford firefighters tear apart the ceiling of 201 Spezia Dr. looking for hot spots following a chimney fire Monday morning. Photo by C.J. Carnacchio. (click for larger version)
February 09, 2011 - Oxford's fast-acting firefighters prevented the home at 201 Spezia Drive from going up in flames Monday after a structure fire was reported there at 8:39 a.m.

"It was a good stop," said Fire Chief Pete Scholz.

It took firefighters about 15 minutes to get a hose in the attic and extinguish the flames before they could consume the house.

The fire was ruled accidental and determined to be the result of cracks in the clay-lined chimney flue, Scholz said. These cracks allowed excess heat to escape and dry out the surrounding wood over time until the attic area finally ignited.

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An estimated $50,000 in structural damage was sustained.

"The whole roof's going to have to come off probably halfway across that house because the trusses are all charred up in the attic space," Scholz said.

Although firefighters were able to move and protect many personal items in the home, Scholz estimated there was still about $10,000 in contents damage.

Scholz indicated two things could have possibly prevented this type of fire.

The first is regular chimney cleanings.

"They said they had burned close to six cords of wood already this winter," the chief said. "When they're burning that much wood, they should be cleaning the chimney at least once a month to get all the creosote out. The creosote is what ignites inside the flue and gets it so hot that extra heat goes outside of the flue-liner and catches the surrounding areas on fire."

It's also a good idea to get the chimney inspected by a specialist "every couple of years" to check for things like cracks, Scholz noted.

During this incident, Oxford received mutual aid from Orion's fire department, which traveled to the scene and covered Station #1, and Brandon Township, which covered calls for Advanced Life Support.

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.
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