WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. (WWLP) – The state fire marshal’s office is reminding residents to clean out flues and inspect chimneys every year after a fire at an auto shop last Thursday.
According to Williamstown Fire Chief Craig Pedercini and State Fire Marshal Peter Ostroskey, around 10 p.m. on February 10, crews were called by an auto shop owner to a fire report at the back of the building. Williamstown firefighters along with crews from Clarksburg and Pownal, Vermont, took approximately six hours to extinguish the fire located on Henderson Road.
The fire was determined to have started in the fireplace, which was fueled by a wood-burning stove that was in use at the time. It spread throughout the building from the trusses, burning materials on the floor, as well as a van that was parked inside.
The Massachusetts Department of Fire Services reports 539 fires involving chimneys, fireplaces, and woodstoves in 2020. These fires injured three residents, six firefighters, and $3.4 million in property losses.
“When wood burns, it creates a tarry substance called creosote,” Chef Pedercini said. “When creosote builds up on a chimney flue, it can ignite and cause a fire. Cracks in the flue or mortar can allow flames and gases, including carbon monoxide, to escape from the chimney, spread through the structure and get everyone inside in danger.
“If you use a fireplace, wood-burning stove or pellet stove, it’s important to have your flue cleaned and your chimney inspected once a year to prevent fires like this,” said the Ostroskey State Fire Marshal. “This is usually done before the start of the heating season, but it’s not too late to do it now. It could save your home, your business or your life.