Chimney fire worst in station officer’s 20-year service

PUBLISHED: 12:48 01 December 2011




A SERIOUS chimney fire which caused extensive damage to a Saffron Walden home has prompted a warning from firefighters about the dangers of burning oddments of wood and the need to keep chimney breasts swept.

Two crews were called to the property in Little Walden Road at just after 10pm on Tuesday (Nov 29).

Station Officer Paul Curtis, the incident commander, said the fire was the worst chimney blaze he had seen in 20 years’ service.

“When we arrived at the scene there was a four foot jet of flame coming from the chimney,” said Mr Curtis.

“This was a severe fire that caused a lot of damage to the property - walls in the loft and lounge cracked under the intense heat and the chimney breast itself came down.

“This was mainly caused by a huge build up of carbon deposits that appeared to be along the whole length of the chimney.”

Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus spent nearly an hour tackling the blaze using two hose reels. The incident was dealt with by 11.36pm.

As people beginning lighting their fires again this year, Mr Curtis reminds families of the need to ensure chimneys are swept regularly.

He also recommends that people stick to burning seasoned wood and logs prepared for fires rather than oddments and waste that may contain resins and the like that might fuel a fire.

Divisional officer at Essex County Fire and Rescue Service, Terry Povey, added: “At this time of year we see an increase the number of chimney fires we have seen this winter and in some cases they can cause real devastation, especially in thatched cottages.

“Anyone who uses a real fire needs to take precautions because these fires are preventable. Regular inspection and cleaning of chimney flues will help to eliminate the build-up of soot from coal, wood, oil and gas-fired systems. It also clears obstructions such as birds nests, leaves and debris.”

Information about home fire safety can be found on the ECFRS website at


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