That was a close one

  • Thread starter Borek
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  • #1
Borek
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When I woke up today Marzena told me she has just seen our neighbors walking with firemen, and there was a fire car earlier on the street. I thought they have just reported our other neighbor, who has some idiotic stove/chimney combination that now and again sends tons of sparkles around, but it turned out that was not the problem. Their house catched fire tonight :bugeye:

Our house is the one on the right, their house is the one on the left, houses look like mirror reflections. Wood covered with snow is on my side. We have common wall between garages:

fire1.jpg


And a closer look. Sat dish on the right is mine (and it still works).

fire2.jpg


There were two fire cars, police car and an ambulance, plus tons of neighbors watching and helping.

We were both sleeping and none of us woke up to the noise :eek:

Our neighbor (let's call him George) is in hospital as he has burnt hands, but from what I understand he was not burnt that badly, he has other medical condition so they kept him just in case. Their attic is not used, it is just an empty space, so what you see is almost all damage (plus some flooding inside). So it turns out loses are not huge, but - as I have already wrote - that was a close one...
 

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  • #2
turbo
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Wow! Not good.
 
  • #3
Evo
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Good grief! I'm very happy that your house was not harmed and you and Marzena are safe.
 
  • #4
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To close for comfort! Having lost so much to a fire myself, I share your sigh of relief.
 
  • #5
Chi Meson
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Wow. I never knew that brick melted!
 
  • #6
turbo
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Borek, is there any chance you can remove your garage to give you a fire-break? If your neighbor doesn't have his system re-inspected and brought up to safety-code, this could happen again. I wouldn't dare to sleep at night knowing that his chimney could overheat that drastically. From the looks of that "chimney" he has a metal stove-pipe routed up through a faux-brick chase that is NOT fire-proof.
 
  • #7
lisab
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:eek: Wow! So glad you and your family, and your house, are all OK!

Any word on what caused the fire? I sure hope it wasn't the sparks from that one neighbor's stove/chimney (although from the pix, it looks like it started internally).

Do you have working smoke alarms, btw? (In fact, does everyone on PF?)

Btw, the insulation on the neighbor's roof must be excellent, there's still a bit of snow over the burned area.
 
  • #8
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Borek,

Wow, that WAS a close one!

Seeing your photos, I was struck with how short the chimney looks, so I Googled;
chimney + clearance + distance
and got this;

http://www.inspectapedia.com/chimneys/Chimney_Height.htm

"...if the chimney is closer to or right at the peak or ridge of the roof, the chimney should extend at least two feet above the ridge"

I do not think this chimney would pass.

Apparently, the clearance is needed to prevent eddies, created by wind blowing across the roof, from directing embers down onto the structure.

You might want to look into this.

.
 
  • #9
Dembadon
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I'd need some pretty convicing evidence/proof that his "system" is up to code after all the repairs are done.

That is way too close for comfort; I'm glad that you and yours weren't harmed.
 
Last edited:
  • #10
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That was certainly close, Borek. Good that it did not turn for the worse. And you still got your firewood. :smile:

Edit: Ah Lisa, smoke alarms, yes very important. I have three actually my house has been tested for safety and I could reduce the insurance costs that way.
 
  • #11
drizzle
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:bugeye: Godness! that was really close.... How come you two didn't hear anything?!
 
  • #12
DaveC426913
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:bugeye: Godness! that was really close.... How come you two didn't hear anything?!
Fire has evolved to be as quiet as possible so it can do its business undisturbed. Noisy fires were selected against, and eventually bred out.
 
  • #13
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lucky, lucky, lucky---


I still smell smoke at different times of the year after the fire in my basement and that was 5 or 6 years ago when I'm near the basement ceiling joists, and sets off a flow of adrenaline
 
  • #14
Moonbear
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Yikes! That chimney looks like nothing but wood boxed around a stove pipe and covered with fake brick! :bugeye: That's definitely too close for comfort! If I were you, I'd be keeping a CLOSE eye on the rebuilding and make sure if they put another chimney in, that it is a REAL chimney, not something made from flammable materials surrounding a stovepipe.
 
  • #15
berkeman
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We were both sleeping and none of us woke up to the noise :eek:

That's a bit worrisome, Borek. Not that you did not wake up, but that the firefighters did not WAKE you up. That's standard procedure around here -- when there's a house fire, the surrounding houses are generally evacuated. Even if your house is not in immediate danger of catching on fire, the smoke from these kinds of fires can be quite caustic and toxic.

Very glad that your family and your neighbor are okay.
 
  • #16
dlgoff
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:Do you have working smoke alarms, btw? (In fact, does everyone on PF?)
That was my thought as well. I'm thinking if Borek didn't have one, he'll have several now. Myself; Oh yea.

Glad you all are okay Borek.
 
  • #17
Borek
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Wow. I never knew that brick melted!

As Turbo wrote - these are not bricks, this is some kind of glass fiber based composite that only pretends to be brick.

Borek, is there any chance you can remove your garage to give you a fire-break? If your neighbor doesn't have his system re-inspected and brought up to safety-code, this could happen again. I wouldn't dare to sleep at night knowing that his chimney could overheat that drastically. From the looks of that "chimney" he has a metal stove-pipe routed up through a faux-brick chase that is NOT fire-proof.

See above - actually it is only charred and it didn't catch the fire.

Our systems are inspected each year, actually it is usually George who remembers to call licensed chimney-sweeper. They had never any objections and the last inspection was somewhere in September or October.

Any word on what caused the fire? I sure hope it wasn't the sparks from that one neighbor's stove/chimney (although from the pix, it looks like it started internally).

Yes, it started at the place where the chimney tube (duct? no idea how to call it) passes through the wall, then went up (hardly surprising). We have no idea what have really happened and why. We can only speculate that it was badly isolated from the very beginning. George is not the first owner and the previous owner was not too aware of the building code, could be whoever installed the fireplace and built the chimney cheated. But the only way of checking would be to demolish the wall. Reasonable approach - inspection by the licensed official - was done. Nota that it was working OK for over 10 years, if something was done wrong one could expect problems much earlier, weather now is not much different from average winter, so we don't put any special stress on our heating systems.

Do you have working smoke alarms, btw? (In fact, does everyone on PF?)

I will have to think about it, but they can be difficult to use. We have a closed fireplace and it works perfectly, but some smoke inside now and again when I add wood is unavoidable. And please don't tell me that it is just a matter of correct chimney and so on, I have yet to see a fireplace which NEVER smokes inside. Especially when you open the door forgetting to open the damper first :grumpy:

Btw, the insulation on the neighbor's roof must be excellent, there's still a bit of snow over the burned area.

Note that attic is unused yet. George put some mineral wool under the roof as he plans to adapt the attic in future, so it was a little bit isolated and fire didn't last long. But I would not call it an excellent isolation.

Seeing your photos, I was struck with how short the chimney looks, so I Googled;
chimney + clearance + distance
and got this;

http://www.inspectapedia.com/chimneys/Chimney_Height.htm

"...if the chimney is closer to or right at the peak or ridge of the roof, the chimney should extend at least two feet above the ridge"

I do not think this chimney would pass.

As I wrote - it was inspected and passed. While these codes are similar they differ and could be Polish one is less restrictive here; TBH I have no idea.

:bugeye: Godness! that was really close.... How come you two didn't hear anything?!

You are not the only one to wonder...
 
  • #18
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Glad that everyone is OK. The damage after the fire looks pretty severe, and could have escalated. It's certainly a wake up call for many of us.

I remember going to do a contract in an apartment complex. I went there and it was charred to coal. People were gathering around the building with a hope of salvaging something, but it was closed off. I believe six families lived there and had to be relocated. They lost everything.
 
  • #19
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I'm very glad to know that you and Marzena are safe.
 
  • #20
Chi Meson
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As Turbo wrote - these are not bricks, this is some kind of glass fiber based composite that only pretends to be brick.
Nah! Those are REAL bricks fella. I can tell.

Yes, it started at the place where the chimney tube (duct? no idea how to call it) ...

flue.

Chimney flue.
 
  • #21
turbo
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Nah! Those are REAL bricks fella. I can tell.
Must be real bricks! My brick chimney has corner moldings just like that. :rolleyes:
 
  • #22
dlgoff
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I will have to think about it, but they can be difficult to use. We have a closed fireplace and it works perfectly, but some smoke inside now and again when I add wood is unavoidable.
You can put it where you sleep away from the fireplace so it will wake you up when there is a greater amount of smoke. Better safe than sorry.
 
  • #23
I am glad that you two and your neighbours are ok Borek.

I suppose they have insurance that will check it out and make sure it gets properly fixed?
 
  • #24
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Glad it didn't get out of hand and that all are OK.

Good time to plug smoke and CO detectors. Happens way more than you might think. I know. Family almost died of CO poisoning not too many years ago. Smoke detectors AND CO detectors -- cheap protection.
 
  • #25
turbo
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And the chimney/stovepipe may not the the only problem, though it looks sub-standard by our codes. There is also a problem that can be produced when someone tries to combine several sources in one flue. A wood stove generally works quite well when it is ducted into a heavy (high thermal-mass) brick/tile chimney in which the heat can generate and maintain a natural draft. They are not as reliable when ducted into stove-pipes - even metal-bestos type insulated pipes. Least desirable are combined systems in which natural-draft wood stoves are ducted into the same chimneys as forced-draft furnaces which are most common in modern houses. The latter is forbidden by code in this state. We have lost too many people to this foolishness.
 

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