HOUSEHOLDERS have been warned not to store wood near hearths after logs caught fire inside a house near Watlington.
Oxfordshire Fire & Rescue Service sent fire engines to tackle the blaze from Wallingford, Thame and High Wycombe fire stations on Sunday evening, December 9.
Firefighters entered the house wearing breathing apparatus and found logs alight next to a wood burning stove. The fires were quickly put out and the logs moved safely to an outside spot.
A spokesman for the fire service said: “This could have been a more serious incident, so if you are lucky enough to have a wood burning stove please don’t store wood (or any other flammable item) near the hearth as it can get very hot and radiated heat can causes items to ignite.”
Unfortunately the incident is not isolated – Bradley Coles, who runs The Gentleman Sweep in Fernwood near Newark, had a shock when he arrived at a house to sweep a chimney for an older lady on December 7. He saw wood piled up near the fire stove [pictured above] and began to point out the dangers to the woman when he suddenly saw some logs – outside the appliance – were alight.
Bradley said: “I arrived at this house and halfway through giving a lecture about not stacking wood by the stove, I realised the pile of logs was actually burning. The elderly lady had no clue. It was a blooming lucky escape for her.”
Bradley also said that in his opinion, it was five to six hours since the stove had last been refuelled with wood. This would suggest they had been smouldering away for most of this time.
Lawson Wight, chairman of the Guild of Master Chimney Sweeps, praised the quick-thinking and professional actions of the fire crews at the incident in Watlington. He also lauded Bradley, a member of the Guild, for potentially saving his customer’s life.
“These incidents serve as a sober reminder that householders need ongoing education about safety in respect of fires at home. This is just the tip of the iceberg, as far as we are concerned.
“I would strongly urge people to read advice about safe fire use on the Find a Chimney Sweep website and contact their local Guild sweep, or fire service, should they have any questions.”
Get safety tips on using your fire stove or open fire. Visit: https://findachimneysweep.co.uk/safety/chimney-safety-tips/
Below are photos taken by Lawson Wight at a chimney sweeping appointment (unrelated to the above incidents). The customer had actually placed these logs on top of her stove to “dry them a little more” and scorching is clearly visible. “Householders need ongoing education about safety in respect of fires at home,” said Lawson.