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Local house fire prompts fireplace safety

By Staff
Melissa Cason
After a busy week of extinguishing fires in the area, the Russellville Fire Department is taking time to educate the public in fire prevention, especially in winter temperatures, and preparing for larger fires through practice and training.
Fire Marshall Bobby Malone said the fire on Circle Drive last week started in the area of the fireplace, and he is asking everyone with fireplaces to clean and properly maintain them to avoid higher risk of fire.
"We got the fire out rather quickly, and there was significant damage to the structure," Malone said.
Malone ruled that the fire started in the fireplace area.
"Fireplaces need to be cleaned out regularly and well maintained in order to be used in the winter for heat," Malone said.
If a fireplace is used for heat in a structure, the following guidelines should be followed:
Examine the outer mortar between bricks or stone to make sure it is intact. Shine a flashlight down the chimney to look at the mortar inside. If the mortar is crumbling, it must be replaced. Look for cracked tile liners or missing bricks, too.
If there's smoke in the house, and you've eliminated chimney debris, make sure the damper is open. If lots of smoke is coming out the chimney, it means that wood isn't burning completely.
While the weather is cold, the firefighters are preparing for difficult situations.
Lt. Neil Willis said firefighters spent time Thursday training at Engle Drive Apartments in Russellville.
"We practiced using the latter truck, and going up and down the ladder," Willis said. "We use the ladder truck during apartment fires, and it's important that we practice here as much as possible."
Willis said the department trains at the apartment complexes at least once a month in order to be prepared should a fire start inside the building.
"We come at least once a month, but try to come two times so that we'll be ready should be called here," Willis said.