Suffolk Fire and Rescue is advising people to check their chimneys before lighting a fire after reporting a 42 per cent increase in chimney fires across the county in December compared to last year.
There were 37 reported chimney fires last month, up from 26 in December 2012.
Suffolk Fire and Rescue recommend all chimneys and flues should be cleaned at least once a year, or quarterly for wood fires.
Chimney fires can occur when soot deposits are left within flue ways. This damages the flue and surrounding structures, and can lead to the fire spreading to the rest of the building.
Councillor Colin Spence, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for public protection, said: “Chimney fires can spread into the roof space or floor cavity and endanger the lives of people in the house as well as causing extensive damage if the chimney is not properly maintained.
“We encourage everyone to sweep their chimneys regularly to make sure there is no excess build-up of resin as this could lead to a fire and devastating consequences for you and your loved ones.
“Stay safe this winter and prevent chimney fires.”
The tips offered are:
1) Keep chimneys and flues clean and well maintained.
2) Make sure you always use a fire guard to protect against flying sparks from hot embers.
3) Ensure the fire is extinguished before going to bed or leaving the house.
4) Ensure good quality fuel is used.
5) Never use petrol or paraffin to light your fire.
For more information and safety tips, visit www.suffolk.gov.uk/emergency-and-safety/fire-and-rescue-service/prevention-community-fire-safety/guidance/fire-safety-information-leaflets.