According to statistics around 18% of Chattooga County residents use wood heat as there only heating source.  Many more residents in the county use wood heat as a primary heating source with gas or electric as back up heat and some residents use wood heat as a back up or in emergencies. 

Earlier this week a family in Menlo lost their home to a fire that was believed to have been caused by a wood burning stove.  According to reports, Ronald Gwin and his wife and five children lost their home on LaFayette Street in Menlo last Sunday night. 

Safety is important no matter if you use wood fires occasionally or as your primary heat source.  In fact, many people who use wood heat only occassionaly may be more at risk because they only light a fire when an emergency arises such as a power outage.  Be sure to follow manufacturers instructions when installing wood stoves in your home and that your chimney or flue is checked and cleaned BEFORE you need wood heat.

Here are some safety tips on Wood Heat:

DO—make sure there is enough clearance between the stove and combustible materials, including floors, walls and ceilings.
DO—place the stove on a noncombustible, fire resistant base.
DO—have a mason or other competent person inspect the chimney.
DO—burn only dry, well-seasoned wood.
DO—consider opening a window a crack for ventilation.
DO—dispose of ashes in a closed metal container outside the house.

DON’T—extend the stove pipe through a wall or ceiling unless there is no possible alternative.
DON’T—connect a wood stove to a fireplace chimney unless the fireplace has been sealed off.
DON’T—connect a wood stove to a chimney serving another appliance burning other fuels.
DON’T—start a stove fire with flammable fluids, such as gasoline.
DON’T—burn trash in a stove; doing so can start a chimney fire.