UPDATE: Fires in Colwood prompt warning about heating sources

Fire in furnace follows chimney fire last week in Colwood

The quick actions of an off-duty public works employee saved a Colwood home from further damage after a chimney fire broke out Dec. 7 near the intersection of Pickford and Kelly Roads.

The Colwood fire department received the call around 7 p.m. Acting Fire Chief John Cassidy said by the time he arrived on the scene, flames were shooting three feet out the top of the chimney. The occupants of the single-family home had already vacated the building, he added.

Fire crews extinguished what they could from inside the house, then applied water down the chimney to put it out completely, Cassidy said. “Overall it was a routine chimney fire.”

The fire was discovered by a City of Colwood employee who was walking by and noticed flames leaping out of the home’s chimney. He quickly informed the residents, who got out shortly afterward.

The chimney in the home is attached to an airtight stove, which made it difficult for the occupants to realize a fire was present.

“With an open fireplace you would hear the intake of air and the rush of air that would signal a chimney fire, but you don’t usually get that with an airtight stove,” Cassidy noted.

Without the passersby’s actions, he added, damage to the chimney could have been far worse or spread to the roof. “He probably made the difference.”

The next night, the department received a call regarding a structure fire on Addlington Place. Once the crew arrived it was determined that the fire was contained in the furnace, said Colwood Fire Rescue Lt. Brian Erwin.

No significant damage to the home was reported, he added, although the inoperable furnace led the residents to spend the night with nearby family. The cause of the fire will remain unknown until the furnace can be investigated further.

Both fires were related to home heating systems and the department took the opportunity to remind residents to take proper safety precautions during the cooler weather.

Cassidy noted that chimney fires are common at this time of year.

Chimneys should be cleaned at least once a year, he said, more frequently if used regularly. As well, he cautioned against putting too many pieces of wood at a time on a fire, or using wood that hasn’t been properly dried.

“This time of year, (with) any household heating systems, it’s really important to ensure that they are properly maintained and regularly serviced, be it a wood stove or a gas or oil furnace,” Erwin said.

joel.tansey@goldstreamgazette.com