By Lily Houston

Firefighters are urging residents with open fires and wood burning stoves to listen to fire safety warnings while keeping their homes warm and cosy.

So far this month Kent Fire and Rescue Service has attended sixteen chimney fires across Kent and Medway but such fires could easily be prevented with regular maintenance and checks.

KFRS community safety manager Charlie Smith said: “If you use an open fire or wood burner, make sure your chimney/flue is swept and checked regularly by a professional chimney sweep to prevent a build of soot and debris that could lead to a blaze. You can also sign up to KFRS’s Clean Sweep Alert to receive a reminder about getting your chimney swept.”

Residents are also being advised against storing logs and other items on hearths, following several fire callouts that have caused concern.

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Logs that have been placed too close to the burner.

Charlie explained: “Log burners are becoming increasingly popular and stacking logs next to these appliances in the hearths is very common, however we want to ensure that people are aware of the dangers of storing items close by. Log burners generate a huge amount of heat and this radiated heat can cause nearby items to ignite, leading to significant damage to your home and potentially putting your life at risk.”

In recent weeks crews have attended incidents in Canterbury and Ticehurst where radiated heat from wood burners caused nearby stacked logs to set alight and spread to other areas of the home.

Other incidents include a fire in a lounge caused by candles placed on a hearth in Tunbridge Wells and an aerosol can that exploded in a Canterbury home after being placed too close to a log burner.

Charlie added: “Our advice is to store logs well away from your hearth and to take extra care to keep other household items at a safe distance when the fire is being used. When going to bed, or leaving your property, make absolutely certain that any open fire is either out, or pushed back into the grate and a guard used to prevent sparks setting light to carpets or furniture.”

“Fire can quickly take hold, which is why it’s vital you have working smoke alarms on every floor of your home to provide early warning in the unfortunate event of a fire. Test them regularly to make sure they will work when they are needed.”