Radiant Heat from Stove Chimney Causes Structure Fire in Dixonville Home

Tuesdayevening at 11:41 PM, twelve (12) Douglas County Fire District No.2 Firefighters, with 3 Fire Engines, 1 Water Tender and 1 Command Vehicles; under the direction of Battalion Chief Barry Hutchings responded to a reported House Fire at 4440 Buckhorn Road in Dixonville.


First units arrived on scene 8 minutes after the initial dispatch and reported heavy smoke and flames visible from the second story of the house. The affected structure was a two story family dwelling of wood frame construction built in 1925.


Upon their arrival on scene and after confirming that all occupants had exited the house, fire fighters using hand lines aggressively attacked the fire to limit its spread and extinguish it. The fire was declared under control in approximately 38 minutes. Overhaul operations continued for several more hours to ensure that no hidden fires remained. Fire damage was limited mostly to the attic/loft bedroom on the second story of the house where the fire originated and to the roof area directly above this bedroom. Smoke damage was moderate to extensive throughout the reminder of the second story of the residence, and minimal to non-existing on the first story. Fire crews remained on scene until approximately 2:00 AM.


The fire was reported to 911 by Larry Kostal who occupies the house along with Christi Masterfield. Mr. Kostal stated to fire investigators that he and Ms. Masterfield were asleep when he was awakened by a noise in the attic of the house. He mentioned that after waking up Ms. Masterfield he checked the attic, which was filled with smoke and was also able to see the glow of a fire around the chimney that raises through that room from the woodstove located in the kitchen on the first story of the house. Mr. Kostal further stated that after discovering the fire, he exited the attic and reported the fire to 911 before evacuating the residence with Ms. Masterfield.


Fire investigators concluded after processing the fire scene and interviewing the residents that a creosote fire originated initially inside the chimney, which had multiple wholes in the mortar joints and was also directly in contact with the structural wood members and wall coverings of the house. The radiant heat and direct flame contact through the wholes and cracks on the mortar joints subsequently caused the ignition of the structural wood members and wall coverings that were directly in contact with the chimney and the spread of the fire throughout the attic.


No injuries to civilians or fire fighters were reported.


Initial fire damage estimates are approximately $30,000


Douglas County Fire District No.2 would like to remind every one that it is important to have chimneys cleaned yearly by a professional chimney sweep. Furthermore, chimneys and related heating appliances should be installed in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions and applicable mechanical and building codes in order to avoid chimney fires, and prevent their unwanted extension through other areas of the home.