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Baldwin Fire Dept. urging people to check fireplaces after near disaster

Posted at 10:20 PM, Nov 19, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-19 23:20:16-05

On cold and rainy nights, cranking up your fireplace may sound like a good idea. But if it isn’t installed properly, it could create a major problem.

In St. Mary Parish, the Baldwin Fire Department is urging people to check their fireplaces and heating devices after a near disaster.

The department posted this picture to Facebook, where a homeowner discovered fire damage while renovating his home.

That damage came from a fireplace that a previous owner improperly installed.

“The house could’ve burned. Some guardian angel was watching over on that one because it could’ve been way worse,” said Baldwin Fire Department’s spokesman, Neil Hebert. “Fires start in the flute of a chimney, in the flute of the fire place, and that causes problems.”

Firefighters were shocked to see the damage caused by the fireplace.

Now, they’re using it as a cautionary tale and a reminder to get your fire place installed by a licensed professional and have routine checks on your fire place and chimney.

“In this age of DIY [do it yourself], everyone wants to get on the internet and look to see how they can do it themselves and save some money. Your fire place is not one of them. Your electrical is not one of them. That needs to be done or at least checked by a licensed inspector because I mean it’ll save your life and it’ll save your family’s life,” said Hebert.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, about 54,000 house fires across the US are caused by heating devices, including fire places and space heaters. The Baldwin Fire Chief, Lance Mire, said this also serves as a reminder to check fire alarms to prevent those dangerous accidents.

“These times we have a lot of synthetic materials that burn really hot and fast. so if you don’t have a smoke alarm, you’re behind the curve ball there because by the time you know it, your home is filled with smoke,” said Mire.

“It is the early warning system and it saves lives. We see it all the time,” continued Hebert.

And in the conversation of fire prevention, a few reminders as the holidays approach.

Christmas trees are highly flammable, so make sure those trees stay hydrated. Use certified Christmas lights and unplug them when they’re unattended.