A neighbor driving by a home on Lincolnwood Drive in the San Roque area of Santa Barbara noticed flames shooting out the top of a chimney stack Wednesday night and ran to the front door to alert the homeowners, who immediately called City Fire and then aimed a garden hose at the flaming chimney from a second-floor balcony. Fire Engineer Kevin Corbett said the homeowner had largely put the fire out by the time fire crews arrived, but firefighters went onto the roof and into the attic to pull away the burned wood for any remaining hot spots.
Creosote and other sooty byproducts of a woodfire collect in chimney flues, Corbett explained, and when they ignite, the heat transfers to roofing and attic wood, which are already likely to be dry and hot. The firefighters on Lincolnwood brought portable water tanks into the attic to put out the fire smoldering there, said Corbett, and were able to avoid flooding the structure with water.
Getting a chimney cleaned out before using it is among the fire safety recommendations sent out recently by the County Fire Department, he noted, and to use dry, seasoned wood, which is less smoky. Other items on the safety list are to test smoke alarms and replace batteries, keep a screen between the fireplace opening and the room, blow out candles before leaving a room, and beware of fabric blowing into space heaters.