RESIDENTS trying to stay warm during the wintry weather has led to an upswing in chimney fires in Gloucestershire.

Firefighters have been called out to 15 chimney fires across Gloucestershire in the past week.

The county’s deputy chief fire officer Geoff Sallis said residents with wood-burning fires should make sure chimneys and flues are properly swept and that burning seasoned wood could also cut down the risk.

“A smoke filled room can ruin everyone’s day and force residents out of their house into the cold when they want to be sitting in front of a nice warm fire,” he said.

Residents can help to avoid this by following this advice:

  • Do not light fires using flammable liquids such as petrol or paraffin.
  • Use the recommended fuel for fires or woodburners, not cardboard or wrapping paper.
  • Do not overload fires with fuel.
  • Use a fireguard to prevent embers setting light to furnishings.
  • Make sure that there is sufficient ventilation.
  • Ensure the fire is completely out before going to bed or out for the day.
  • Fit a smoke alarm.

Gloucestershire County Council cabinet member for community safety Cllr Will Windsor-Clive (Con, Newent) appealed to residents to help minimise the risk of chimney fires.

“Our Fire and Rescue Service does a good job all year round but too often they are occupied dealing with chimney fires that could have been avoided through proper maintenance,” he said. “Please help them to be there for you when you really need them by having your chimney swept.”