Roanoke County fire serves as warning about home heating safety

Fireplace set wall in home on fire

ROANOKE COUNTY, Va. – A couple living in the 5100 block of Catawba Valley Drive is lucky to have a home.

Their gas fireplace set a wall on fire Friday.

"The homeowner came home and saw smoke," Roanoke County Fire & Rescue Community Outreach Coordinator Brian Clingenpeel said.

Firefighters were able to quickly get the fire out before it caused any major damage.

Clingenpeel said the fireplace may not have been installed properly.

"We always recommend, whether it's gas logs or a wood stove, that those get installed by a professional. There are plenty of companies out there who do that. So just please make sure you have a professional who is familiar with building codes," said Clingenpeel.

Dixie Products is one of those companies.

General Manager Lolly Quigley said taking pictures of what you buy can help ensure it gets properly installed.

"Manufacturers have a certain way that the logs need to set in the fireplace, so we recommend that people take pictures of the display and make sure that it's laid out correctly," Quigley explained.

Once a fireplace is installed, it needs to be inspected regularly.

"Sometimes, you can go every other year depending on how much dander (you have in your home.) If you have pets and things like that, we definitely recommend a cleaning service on an annual basis," Quigley said.

If you're using a traditional fireplace to heat your home, Clingenpeel emphasizes ashes should be placed in a metal container with a lid and allowed to completely cool, which he said can take up to a week, before being dumped out.

Also be sure to leave plenty of space when you're heating your home, whether that's with a fireplace, wood stove or space heater.

"We say, 'Three feet from the heat.' So anything that can burn needs to be kept three feet from that heat source," Clingenpeel said.

That's a reminder that could save your home and perhaps your life.

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