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Chimney safety warning following weekend of woodburner fires

Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service (HWFRS) warn that residents across the two counties are putting their homes and families at risk by using unswept chimneys or wood-burning stoves that have not been properly installed.

The warning follows a busy weekend for chimney fires in Herefordshire and Worcestershire, with eight fire engines and nearly 50 firefighters called to tackle four simultaneous fires involving wood-burning stoves on Saturday (27 November) alone.

This included fires at a farm in Bosbury, near Ledbury; at a property in Beoley Road East in Lakeside in Redditch: at Brook Lane in King's Thorn near Hereford and at Nuffield Lane in Droitwich, all within a three-hour period on Saturday evening.

HWFRS were also called to a chimney fire at Kingsfield near Kingsland on Friday 26 November, plus further fires involving wood-burning stoves at Upton Warren, Martin Hussingtree and Whitney-on-Wye, near Eardisley, on Friday 26 November and at Earl's Croome, near Upton and Webheath in Redditch on Sunday 28 November.

Tony Prosser, Assistant Chief Fire Officer at Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service said: "This spate of chimney fires follows repeated warnings from our Community Safety team over the last few weeks about the importance of having chimneys swept in readiness for winter use.

"The majority of chimney fires are preventable – and the risk can be minimised by ensuring that chimneys are swept regularly, that heating appliances are properly installed and that only the correct type of fuel is burned."

He confirmed that the chimney fires attended over the weekend included two where the chimneys had not been swept for some time – three years for one chimney and NINE years for another.

Another fire was due to poor installation, where the wood-burning stove had been incorrectly fitted by the owner, while another chimney fire attended was thought to have been caused by the build-up of soot from burning young or green wood.

ACFO Prosser added: "While these fires were brought under control fairly rapidly, without injury or major damage to property, they involved significant firefighting resources and had the potential to be far more serious.

"In the light of these latest incidents, we are once again urging everyone with a chimney to make an appointment NOW to have their chimney swept if they have not already done so."