Temperatures have been hovering around the freezing mark at night and that means many homeowners have been lighting up their fireplaces. 

One expert says before you start a fire, you should check to make sure you are not creating a hazardous situation in your home by having your fireplace checked. 

Creosote, the combination of unburned particles of wood and gases that condense as they go up the chimney, sticks to the chimney walls and needs to be removed periodically or you could be burning more than just wood.

“You can have a chimney fire, which could be devastating," said Bob Burney, owner of Aggie Chimney Sweep. "If you’re lucky, all you would lose is the fireplace. If you’re not, you have to build a new house."

Burney recommends that residents should have their chimney checked every year and cleaned after burning a half-cord of wood or every other year, whichever comes first.

“We go through a half-cord of wood every year, so this going to be an annual event from now on, because this was spooky, " said Chip Caprez.

He said he hadn’t had his fireplace looked it in at least three or four years.

“It was an accident looking for a place to happen, " said Burney, with soot all over his face and hands after giving Caprez’ fireplace a thorough cleaning on Tuesday.

“It was quite a bit more dirty than I thought it was," Caprez said.

Fire could also start inside the chimney if the creosote catches fire. The fire would draw oxygen out, then blow right out the top of the chimney like a roman candle. 

Sparks could ignite the roof, a car or the yard.

“It is a lot easier on everybody if you just maintain your fireplace," Burney said.

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