The Auburn Rural Fire Department responded to a massive house fire Wednesday morning at 2203 Echo Valley Road, a few miles out of the city limits of Auburn. Units were called out at approximity4:15 a.m. after the occupants of the fire called for help.
Upon arriving at the scene, department chief Jim Kutzman said firefighters were faced a two story structure fire fully involved, which means flames had taken over the home.
“It was a big fire,” said Kutzman, one which kept firefighters there for three and a half hours. “We attacked it from both sides, to extinguish the fire.”
The house was a total loss.
The people that were living in the home were already outside when firefighters arrived, so they knew everyone was out of the burning house. Kutzman said one person experienced minor burns, but other than that there were no injuries.
Chief Kutzman said they are not sure at this time how the fire began. The house was being heated with wood, said Kutzman.
The Auburn City Fire Department assisted the rural department with the blaze.
Kutzman says although he is not sure what started this fire, he does want to warn people who heat with wood to be very careful.
“This is the colder part of the year and people who heat with fire should take extra precaution. Those who heat with wood need to make sure their fireplaces are screened off to keep embers from coming out,” said Kutzman. Even the smallest of embers can start a fire that can end up large if not caught in time, especially if occupants go to sleep and the fire is still going.
Another thing wood burners need to be aware of are their chimneys and flues. Chimneys can gather a buildup of creosote, which can be very dangerous and start a fire if not kept clean.
The combustion process when wood is burned is never complete. The smoke from a wood fire usually contains a dark brown or black substance which has an unpleasant odor. This tar-like substance is called creosote and is found almost anywhere in a wood heating system.
At temperatures below 250 degrees F creosote will condense on the surfaces of stove pipes or chimney flues.When the temperature gets below 150 degrees F the creosote deposit will be thick, sticky and similar to tar. This tends to trap carbon from smoke which dries and bakes inside pipes and flues. This flaky substance is very flammable.
Creosote is more of a problem with wood stoves than fireplaces since the exhaust gases from stoves are cooler than those from the fireplaces.
A simple inspection of your chimney and flue can be a life or death decision.
Kutzman also tells people who heat with wall radiators or registers to make sure no debris is around them and keep them free of dust.