Chimney fire danger increasing after earthquake

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Nearly a month after that massive earthquake in Louisa County, chimney fire inspectors are warning you about the dangers that could be lurking in your home.

We all know that after that big earthquake many of us went out to check out our chimneys. While some of them look perfectly fine from far away, a closer look make show a big danger- in fact it could end up being a hotbed for fires.

The damage extensive. From house to house in Louisa, you see crumbling chimneys and bricks littered all over the place.

Chimney inspector Kevin Stewart is even seeing the same problem -- miles away -- right here in Richmond. "Almost everywhere there are hairline cracks of one type or another."

Stewart says history tells us when the ground shakes from a 5.0 magnitude earthquake or greater -- there is a big spike in house fires. He's already warned the fire marshals across the state about this.

But, the biggest concern here are the cracks that you can't see, inside the wall Chances are you and maybe even an inspector won't find this crack and it could mean big trouble.

In fact, Stewart found a long crack on a model chimney he uses to train others.

"The big danger here is right against this wall is wood framing covered with sheet rock. And you can't see it. The heat that passes through here is going to cause a lot of structure fires this year," he adds.

Bricks may have fallen inside your chimney, "that furnace flue can be blocked out," says Stewart. Stewart says that leaves you at a risk for carbon monoxide poisoning, "because the furnaces can't vent properly."

The best advice here is make sure you get a professional to check out your chimney and make sure to ask that professional to do a thorough inspection. You may have to dish out more dough now, but it could be a life-saver in the end.

Stewart tells us he is offering a class every third Saturday of the month that you can be apart of. It'll cost you, but you'll learn about the possible dangers your fireplace may cause. You can reach Kevin at 9804) 222-0401.

He adds, another piece of advice is to just be careful this winter. Make sure your fires in the fireplace are not as hot as usual and also, do not keep the fire burning for as long as you normally do.

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