After realizing something was wrong, the family reported that smoke was spilling into their home from the lit fireplace at 3:19 p.m. Fortunately, local fire officials were able to control the fire within just 15 minutes of them reaching the home.
Not only were they quick enough to prevent any serious damage to the structure, but the family came out unharmed.
After some inspection, fire officials determined the problem stemmed from a blockage in the chimney, a problem that the firefighters were very familiar with.
“(This call) was common because these people had just bought the house,” said Chief Richard Paratore of the Teaneck Fire Department. “It was the first time they had used the fireplace. It happens from time to time; either they don’t have the chimney properly inspected, or cleaned before they use it… Right before it gets cold, everybody should get whatever they’re using to heat their house inspected.”
While this family was lucky enough to have come out unscathed from this incident, not all people who experience fireplace issues are so fortunate.
The Guardian reports that a 25-year-old woman, Kimberly Jones, died in her first night staying at her new home in Cwmbach, Wales, from asphyxiation from carbon monoxide, resulting from a faulty fireplace.
Her father Andrew Jones said he had warned his daughter about leaving the windows open while using the fireplace to prevent the build up of carbon monoxide. Unfortunately, she appears to have ignored her father’s advice.
Even though Linda Parfaitt, the previous owner of the house, said that the chimney had been swept 15 months before Jones moved in, the manufacturer advises it be swept at least twice a year. Parfaitt also claimed that the throat plate specifically designed to prevent any gas leaks had been cleaned only two months prior.
“It took me about 30 minutes to remove the throat plate when it should only take about 30 seconds. Because it was jammed it stopped the fumes going up the chimney’s airway and deflected them into the living room,” explained Howard Reed, a local heating engineer.
He estimated that the throat plate had not been serviced for up to four or five years.
Kimberly Jones was found dead by her mother on the morning of August 9, 2013, from a problem that could have been easily avoided.