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Fire officials issue winter safety warnings

SHERRY MAYS, Sierra Sun

In the wake of numerous chimney fires reported in the Truckee and Donner Summit areas, fire officials are warning primary residents, second homeowners and renters to take extra steps to protect themselves and their homes during the winter months.

Chimneys not properly maintained and improper ash disposal are the main problems, according to Bob Bena, Truckee fire marshal.

“We are getting a lot of calls for fires that can easily be prevented,” he said. “Residents have to make sure they service their chimneys and prepare them for winter like any other part of winterizing.”

Bena offered the following advice:

Keep stove pipes and chimneys clean and free of buildup.

Place all ashes in a metal container and let them sit outside on the ground for at at least a week before discarding them.

Keep the area around woodstoves and fireplaces clean and free of combustibles.

Keep propane tanks and regulators free of snow and ice, and keep them marked properly so they are do not get hit by snow removal equipment.

Check all smoke detectors for proper operation and install new batteries yearly.

Review home safety with children and practice evacuation procedures in the event a fire takes place.

Always have a fire extinguisher available. A 5-pound 2A-10BC extinguisher is best for regular combustibles and flammable liquids.

“Many people don’t realize that ashes from a fireplace or woodstove can stay hot for up to a week,” Bena said. “That is where we run into the most problems. We respond to a lot of calls with decks and hallways on fire because people don’t know what to do.”

Bena said the department attempts to inform second homeowners or residents who rent their homes about the fire dangers associated with ashes and unclean chimneys.

“We do the best we can,” he said.

For information, call Bena or Fire Prevention Officer Chuck Thomas at 582-7853.

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