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Cold Causes Uptick In Fair Grove Fires

Fair Grove, Mo. -- Cold weather tends to cause more house fires. There is something you can do now, to prevent a fire in your home.
Fair Grove, Mo. --  Cold weather tends to cause more house fires.  We told you about a fire that destroyed a Fair Grove home yesterday. The Fair Grove fire crews tell us that the cause is still under investigation, but they believe it was fireplace-related.  This is a common problem in the winter, but there is something you can do now, to prevent a fire in your home.

"In the winter we have more structure fires typically than we do the rest of the year," says Fair Grove Fire Department Battalion Chief Randall Hoskins.  "January and February is always the biggest time for flu fires," adds Vernon Smith, President and Owner of Smitty's Chimney Sweep and Stoves.

This year is more problematic than years past for the Fair Grove Fire Department. "In Fair Grove, we've seen a pretty good increase in the number of fires this year compared to last year," says Hoskins.  Last winter (December through February) Fair Grove fire crews battled 12 structure fires.  So far this winter (December through January 7th) fire crews have already battled nine.  Hoskins says, "If we keep up this pace we're going to more than double the fires we had last year."

To keep that prediction from materializing, have your furnace and chimney inspected yearly.  "People may have cracks or chips in their flu or chimney.  That may not be a problem if you're not burning it a lot," says Hoskins.  However, people are using their fireplace frequently with this year's record breaking cold. "Once that flu tile cracks, now you're sending superhot gasses hitting the block and the brick, which in turn cracks them," explains Vernon Smith.  "That soot and smoke can build up in those cracks, and if the soot catches on fire, the fire can creep through those cracks in the flu and causes the rest of your house to be on fire," adds Hoskins.

People are also constantly cranking the furnace this year. "In normal winter months you may not get to that point to where that furnace is overheating or sparking or the defect is coming out.  But when you're constantly burning or constantly running your furnace that's when the problems can happen," explains Hoskins.

Call the company that installed your furnace to have it inspected. To have your fireplace cleaned and inspected, call a chimney sweeper. "Just an open fireplace costs you about 100 to 125 dollars depending on what it is exactly," says Smith.

Not all area fire departments have seen an increase in fires this year.  It turns out Springfield has seen a decrease in structure fires this year compared to last.
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