Recent drops in temperature have correlated with an increase in fire department calls to chimney fires throughout the county including one near Fish lake on Dec. 22 and another south of Mora on Jan. 2.

Temperatures have dipped as low as -23ºF in Mora in the last two weeks; residents’ attempts to warm themselves became more than they bargained for when creosote buildup caught fire.

Mora firefighter Bob Jensen said the department has been very busy recently.

“I think the cold weather has impacted the number of calls we’ve received,” he said.

According to the US Fire Administration, fires related to heating is the second leading cause of fires. Cooking is first. Fires confined to chimneys, flues or fuel burners make up for 75 percent of home heating fires. Fires that spread beyond a confined point of origin happened because the source (perhaps a space heater) was too close to other things that can burn.

The National Fire Protection Association suggests the following home heating safety tips:

  • Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from heating equipment, like the furnace, fireplace, wood stove, or portable space heater.
  • Have a three-foot “kid-free zone” around open fires and space heaters.
  • Never use your oven to heat your home.
  • Have a qualified professional install stationary space heating equipment, water heaters or central heating equipment according to the local codes and manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected every year by a qualified professional.
  • Remember to turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.
  • Always use the right kind of fuel, specified by the manufacturer, for fuel burning space heaters.
  • Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room. Ashes should be cool before putting them in a metal container. Keep the container a safe distance away from your home.
  • Test smoke alarms at least once a month.

Kirsten Faurie is the editor of the Kanabec County Times.