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We’ve all seen the headlines of fires where the families have escaped easily and others where the entire family was killed. Have you ever wondered why some seem to get out and others don’t? Well, the answer may be in the type of fire that is produced because there are actually two types of chimney fires.

The Free Burning Chimney Fire

When a chimney fire has a lot of oxygen is becomes very noticeable and loud and is called a free burning fire. It can sound much like a jet taking off so you might hear it before you see it but it won’t be too long before you see it as well. These are the fires where neighbors are woke up by the noise and are able to get the fire departments out quickly or even notify the occupants of the home so they have a chance to escape. You will see flames coming out of the chimney and sometimes even out of the top of the house as the fire spreads upward.

Slow Burning Chimney Fire

When you have a slow burning fire it can actually take it’s time because it doesn’t have as much oxygen and tends to smolder for a while. This makes these types of fire much harder to detect than the free burning kind. These fires normally start in the venting systems where there is limited oxygen and are very dangerous because they can get up to 2000 degrees F. A lot of damage can be done from a fire that burns this hot.

A slow burning fire can cause discoloration on the outside of the chimney, can warp and even melt the chimney cap, spew creosote as well as leave smoke stains on just about everything. Many victims of a slow burning fire are killed by smoke inhalation and not the fire.

The number one way to prevent either type of fire in your home is call a professional chimney contractor and get your chimney inspected annually. If you have never had your chimney inspected and don’t know what to expect or what to brush up on what the inspection is all about, please read our recent series on chimney inspections.