Warm Up But Stay Safe, Precautions for Indoor Fires - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Warm Up But Stay Safe, Precautions for Indoor Fires

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It's getting chilly out and many people are lighting up their fireplaces and wood stoves for the first time this year. It's getting chilly out and many people are lighting up their fireplaces and wood stoves for the first time this year.

RICHLAND, WA-- It's getting chilly out and many people are lighting up their fireplaces and wood stoves for the first time this year.

But fire fighters and heating experts say there's a big safety risk if you don't prepare properly. Experts say the key to avoiding any dangerous fire outbreaks is maintenance.

Freezing nights call for a nice fire to warm up to but don't be so quick to start one without taking the right precautions.

Fire places and wood stoves can have build up from last year and spark a chimney fire quickly.

"Make sure it is safe to use prior to operation and cleaned out. If it's used on a regular basis then it's annual maintenance," said Alex McLain, from the Fire and Water heating store in Richland.

"Their lives may depend on some of the simple maintenance that they can do now," said Fire Marshal Mark Yaden, Kennewick Fire Department.

Yaden says firefighters often see these types of fires spread into an attic or on the roof of a home and typically neighbors call in the signs of flames.

"A lot of the times residents don't know it until it's starting to break through the ceiling or has really built up in there," Yaden said.

Experts say a fire can be a safe way to warm up, but only if you take the time to maintain the sources and keep a careful eye on the flames.

Insurance agents say you also need to look into your coverage and take the burning heat in your home seriously.

"It just could be very disastrous so it's very important that you check with your agent if you have a wood stove or if you're going to install a wood stove. Make sure that you've talked to the professionals on what needs to be done and what your insurance company requires to be done," said Micki McKinnon, State Farm insurance agent.

The Kennewick fire marshal also says people want to keep their pets warm outside with heat lamps or inside near other heat sources, but continually firefighters see accidental fires started by pets.

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