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Crocker fire on Christmas leads to warning: Don't burn paper in fireplace
Crocker fire on Christmas leads to warning: Don't burn paper in fireplace

Station Capt. Jeff Porter wants residents to practice fireplace safety by not burning wrapping paper in fireplaces.
CROCKER, Mo. (Dec. 25, 2009) — Station Capt. Jeff Porter of the Crocker Rural Fire Protection District has a warning for people who want to get rid of Christmas wrapping paper: Don’t try to burn it in a fireplace.

A family on Highway 17 south of Crocker learned that the hard way on Christmas night when their chimney flue caught on fire about 6 p.m., forcing an emergency response from Crocker and Waynesville firefighters who sent more than a dozen personnel, three engines and one tanker to the blaze, with another tanker crew on standby in the Waynesville station ready to respond if needed.

Putting out the chimney fire required dropping chemical bags down the chimney, Porter said, which wasn’t easy because of the Christmas snowfall.

“We had cold temperatures and definitely the snow on the roof posed a problem for us,” Porter said. “But we got up there quick. The residents did have the fire in the stove out before the first engine arrived, so we dealt with what was on fire in the chimney itself.”

Eleven Crocker firefighters were joined by five from Waynesville and an ambulance crew from the Pulaski County Ambulance District, along with a Pulaski County sheriff’s deputy who controlled traffic at 19409 Highway 17, about four miles north of the Crocker Bridge on the major north-south roadway between Crocker and Waynesville, for about an hour while firefighters extinguished the blaze.

Porter said flue fires are a common but usually preventable problem.

“A wood stove is made for wood only. You don’t want to throw things in there that don’t need to be put in there,” Porter said. “Just be sure that your chimney is cleaned out prior to the season. That’s the main thing that we need to deal with: the amount of green wood that the people have been burning poses more of a problem for buildup in the pipe.”

If residents burn wood that hasn’t been properly seasoned, it causes creosote to build up in the chimney. That can cause a problem just by itself, Porter said, but combining that with paper or other light material makes problems even more likely.

“It is on fire as its going up the pipe, and all that creosote that is in the pipe will ignite,” Porter said. “I just want everybody to be careful this season; the fewer calls we have to go out on, the better.”

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