Sunday, January 23, 2011

Two weeks too late

Really really really should have left for warmer climes by now. Definitely should have left by yesterday. I would have avoided today's chimney fire.

Bright and early, I loaded up the basement woodstove. The piece of white birch I put in had a lot of loose bark, which took off like a torch, setting creosote in the chimney on fire. I knew right off I had a chimney fire. Gave it a blast with my 10 lb dry chemical fire extinguisher. Slowed it down but did not put it out. Emptied the wood and hot coals out of the stove and threw them in the snow outside. Gave the chimney another blast from the fire extinguisher. Still didn't quite put it out.

That's when I called the local volunteer Fire Department. It's embarrassing for a retired Firefighter to have to call the Fire Department. Would have been even more embarrassing to burn the house down.

The boys did a pretty decent job. A snow covered geodesic dome is pretty tricky to put ground ladders up on. I talked them through it. Sent them up the same way I use to clean my chimney. They were able to clean out the chimney and nobody fell off the roof.

Yeah . . . about that chimney cleaning. It really didn't look all that bad last time I checked. Thought that it would be fine until I came back from Florida in the spring. Of course, it wasn't. Our sudden blast of Arctic cold had me cranking up the woodstove to its max and that was part of the problem. I, of all people, should have known better.

The big basement woodstove will be retired for the rest of the winter. I'll really inspect and clean the chimney out good when I get back. Will definitely make a few changes before next heating season. In the mean time, it looks like my backup oil furnace will carry the load.

Really proud of the way my wife handled the whole thing. She's really good in an emergency. She grabbed our two laptop computers and her meds on the way out of the house. She had to sit in the truck out in the cold the whole time. When it was all over, she wasn't even mad. Stuff happens. She's a pearl beyond price. Not a complainer that one.



  1. So happy all is well're right stuff happens and it is the way we handle it can make or break it!

  2. If your stove is air tight and can be closed down completely ? Your roof was covered with snow ? Wut's the problem ? Next time just throw a big bucket of water in it, close that puppy down and let things take care of themselves. Anything other than a completely airtight stove is a disaster waiting to happen ! I'm assuming that you have triple wall pipe that is screwed together.

  3. Glad to hear that you did not have any other damage other than the stove pipe and your pride.

  4. Sixbears,glad it ended well!


  5. Whiteowl- thanks. It's the way you react to stuff that matters.

    Anon- masonry with tile liner. A Chimney fire can reach 1400 degrees. Tile liners can fail at 1200. Seen it happen.

    Dizzy -you'd think my pride would be used to it by now.

  6. SixBears, I've been through one of those myself and it was a tense time. Glad you could get it out with losing your home! I guess chimney maintenance just move up on your maintenance list...

  7. Dodged that bullet! Yep, if you'd only been down sailing in the Keys...

  8. Yukon -indeed it has.

    Mayberry -If all goes well, I won't make that mistake next year.

  9. Glad it ended well. Freezing here in MA tonight, get the chimney cleaned and enjoy FL

  10. Glad to hear it wasn't worse. I know how a chimney can look "not so bad" and then regret not cleaning it, regardless of how it looked.

    Minus 10 here last night & probably the same tonight. Three fires here already today - all wood stoves either not properly installed or chimney not cleaned.

    This weather sure makes Florida look good! Take care, Treesong

  11. Thanks Treesong. -12 right now, but might head near -30 by morning.