Chimney Fire!

Had a bit of excitement this morning. No apparent permanent damage, though I’ll know more before I light the woodstove again. My neighbor D is coming this afternoon to help me take the whole thing apart, inspect and clean it. Creosote logs, it seems, are not a reliable preventative.

Right now I’m in adrenaline dump, and shivering with cold for the first time all winter, and glad I’m not hosing down the ashes of my cabin.

Update later.

UPDATE: Okay, I’m calmer and warmer now. Woke rather late, the fire had burned completely out overnight, it was chilly, and I quickly lit as big a fire as the firebox will support. Big Woolly, you are correct in surmising that normally my chimney doesn’t get as hot as the Lehman’s thermometer says it should – with a big eight-inch chimney on top of my stove’s little firebox, it’s hard to heat things up to the recommended level – though this morning it was well in the “TOO HOT!” range.

Anyway, I lit the fire and was waiting for my coffee water to heat up when I noticed Click the Cat staring at the ceiling with great interest. It’s possible she saved the cabin. I followed her gaze and saw smoke coming off the stovepipe, up near the ceiling box. I looked at the chimney thermometer and its indicator was visibly moving.

I shooed the animals outdoors, opened the firebox, and started carrying burning logs outdoors with the fire tongs and tossing them in the fire barrel. By the time I carried out the last one, smoke was starting to come off the roof at the base of the chimney and I was entering what pilots call a “damage acceptable” situation. That’s when I put out the fire in the firebox with my expensive extinguisher, knowing this might not stop the chimney fire. Then I closed off every air inlet to the firebox, and that did put it out.

I just got back from putting the boys in Gitmo for safekeeping and getting the big ladder from M’s Dome. I’ve got to inspect the roof when we clean out the chimney this afternoon, but as far as I can tell from below there’s no damage. Fortunately we took every precaution in putting the stovepipe through the roof.

Fire scares me. It’s going to be a while before I trust this system again, because nothing out of the ordinary happened this morning – except that the Secret Lair almost burned down.

About Joel

You shouldn't ask these questions of a paranoid recluse, you know.
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9 Responses to Chimney Fire!

  1. Carl-Bear says:

    I’ve tried those solid “log” style anti-creosote products and they didn’t work worth a damn. At least two different pro chimney sweep have told me I’m right. One said he thinks those even make it worse.

    Quik-Shot seems to work OK. Looks a little like the solid kind, but has a granular powder in a tube.

    So far, the best product I’ve tried (again, a couple of sweeps agreed) so far is “Anti-Creo-Soot”. It’s a liquid you spray into the firebox.

    (Disclaimer- I received no compensation or favor for these recommendations. I WISH.)

  2. Big Wooly says:

    I’m amazed that you had one already. The only thing that I can think of is that you have been, in your very frugal style, burning very low fires which haven’t allowed the chimney to heat up sufficiently. Then when you decide to have a nice roaring hot one the buildup from the coating of smoke on the cold chimney ignited. How did you put it out?

  3. Woody says:

    Big Wooly is right, you need to keep your fire hot enough to prevent the creosote from condensing on the chimney walls. Burning more wood than necessary to warm your cabin is cheaper in the long run than having it burn to the ground.

    I’m real glad to hear you dodged the bullet this time.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Already? That cedar and scrub must be sooty as hell. Nope, those anti creosote logs don’t do a damn thing and we have a sweep who also says he thinks they make it worse. Spend the money you wold use ion those and invest in a brush:


  5. Anonymous says:

    In high school, I worked at a fast food place that vented the gas furnace/water heater/stove and fume hood all out the same chimney. Grease caked up inside it and ignited. At night. Absolutely spectcular-looked and sounded like a captive rocket engine test.

  6. Carl-Bear says:

    I suggest buying a “Chimfex” extinguisher stick (looks like a flare- when you get a chimney fire, you ignite it, toss it the firebox and close the dampers). Spraying a regular extinguisher into the box puts out the stove fire, but doesn’t immediately help with the fire in the chimney.

    Long term solution (which will help stove operation, too). Try running some 6 inch stovepipe inside the 8″ as a liner, using a 6″ adapter on the stove, of course. That should give you better air flow control.

  7. Carl-Bear says:

    PS- Yeah, I realize that I sound like I’m casually telling to just throw money at a problem. Sorry ’bout that. I DO understand the realities.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Been there, done that…there’s good adrenaline and there’s bad adrenaline, chimney fire is def the bad kind! Throwing wet newspapers or a big wet towel in the firebox will put out the fire and send wet steam up the chimney, sometimes enough to put out your chimney fire. Jeesh, makes me jumpy just thinkin’ about it. Glad you and the beasts are okay, and your cabin!
    Miss Violet

  9. Anonymous says:

    I have to agree that your 8″ pipe might be too big, draft poorly, and tend to run cold. Perhaps you need to consider whether the stove and pipe are appropriately matched. Regular use of a chimney brush is certainly the cheap solution until you fall off the roof.

To the stake with the heretic!