Chilly weather sparks house fire concerns

Crews respond to 90 structure fires since Thanksgiving

By Patty Santos - Reporter

SAN ANTONIO - Chilly weather is sparking fires and concerns for San Antonio firefighters. Since Thanksgiving, they have responded to 90 structure fires.

This week, a massive fire on West Travis Street destroyed a home, and last week at an apartment complex on Gillmore Avenue, a man was killed in a fire. The cause of those fires has not yet been determined, but for others, investigators point to heating sources.

On Broadway, last Thursday, a chimney was to blame for starting a fire. It was one of two fires caused by fireplaces, according to officials.

Javier Alonso, with Alamo Chimney Sweepers, said business has been rising since the cooler weather arrived by people who want to ensure their fireplaces are clean to avoid a fire.

“You want to get it inspected once a year to make sure everything is in good and working condition,” he said.

Critters can build nests in the chimney and start a fire. Soot left behind in a dirty fireplace is also a fuel for a fire.

“That's basically stored energy that's not ignited,” Alonso said. “When you get a hot enough fire, or flames that take place, that can start burning up what's there, and that's when you have a chimney fire taking place.”

Have a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room. Ashes should be cool before putting them in a metal container. Portable space heaters, furnace and wood stoves should be kept clear of items. A 3-foot zone around those sources is suggested. Turn portable heaters off and disconnect them when going to sleep or leaving the room.

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