Springfield firefighters urge caution with chimneys, stoves after fire

Springfield firefighters are reminding residents to use caution with wood-burning stoves and fireplaces after a house fire this week.

Springfield firefighters responded to fire in the 300 block of Stanton Avenue about 3:15 p.m. Monday. The occupant of the home left to run errands, Battalion Chief Matt Smith said, but before he left he put wood in a wood-burning stove.

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He returned about 30 minutes later and found the first floor of his home full of smoke, Smith said. Next to the stove was a hole burned into the floor. The man tried to pour water in it but realized his basement was on fire and called 9-1-1.

Crews arrived on scene and attempted to attach the fire, Smith said.

“An offensive fire is when we go inside and put the fire out, go inside, go right up to the fire,” he said.

That approach proved ineffective because of the size of the fire, Smith said, and safety became a concern. So firefighters backed out and went to a defensive operation.

“A defensive fire is, for whatever reason, too dangerous for us to go inside,” he said. “It’s too much fire, the building is falling down. We stay outside and throw water from a distance.”

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The fire caused about $50,000 worth of damage and the city has ordered the home demolished.

Residents need to check their fireplaces and stoves before lighting them, Smith said.

“Make sure a qualified chimney sweep has gone through there, inspected it and cleaned it out,” he said.

Every fire starts with a small spark, he said, and leaving one unattended and open is a bad idea.

“You need to have a screen,” Smith said. “That will cut down — it will not totally prevent it — but it will cut down on the sparks getting onto the carpet or a piece of paper laying on the hearth.”

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