Attention Readers: Find Us in Your Mailbox Soon
With the coronavirus stats going in the right direction, all of us at C&G Newspapers look forward to resuming publication of the St. Clair Shores Sentinel and Birmingham-Bloomfield Eagle on May 27th. All other C&G newspapers will begin publishing on June 10th (Advertiser-Times on June 24th). In the meantime, continue to find local news on our website and look for us on Facebook and Twitter.

Older-style chimneys not properly inspected pose fire hazard, say Troy fire officials

By: Terry Oparka | Troy Times | Published March 11, 2020

 Flames from this chimney fire at a home on Bristol Drive burn through an outside wall.

Flames from this chimney fire at a home on Bristol Drive burn through an outside wall.

Photo provided by the Troy Fire Department

 Firefighters opened the attic and surrounding walls to check for extension of the fire at a home on Bristol Drive Jan. 12.

Firefighters opened the attic and surrounding walls to check for extension of the fire at a home on Bristol Drive Jan. 12.

Photo provided by the Troy Fire Department

TROY — Fire and insurance investigators determined that the cause of a chimney fire at a home on Bristol Drive, near Wattles and Rochester roads, was debris not detected in a standard chimney inspection.

Firefighters were called to a two-story home on Bristol Drive just after 2:45 p.m. Jan. 12 on a report of a chimney fire.

According to a press release, the caller reported crackling in the walls and smoke filling the home.

The caller was told to evacuate and wait outside for the Fire Department, according to the release.

Firefighters arrived to find a fire; all occupants reportedly were out of the home.

Crews entered the home to extinguish the flames, prevent extension of the fire into the attic space and search the home to ensure all occupants were out, according to the release. Firefighters ventilated the smoke and opened the attic and surrounding walls to check for extension of the fire.

The flames exited the home at the second floor.

Quick action by firefighters prevented the fire from spreading, according to the release.

Assistant Fire Chief Peter Hullinger told C & G Newspapers that the family, who is not able to inhabit the home at this time, had the fireplace inspected four days before the fire.

“The inspection done was not able to see debris in the system,” he said.

In the press release, he said that the chimney was installed with a metal triple-wall chimney system back in the 1970s.

“This style of chimney is designed to allow air to flow between the two layers of pipe in order to cool the heat and gases flowing up through the inner flue of the chimney,” the release states.

“Over the years, debris such as bird nesting material and insulation may have gotten into one of the cooling pipes and prevented air from properly circulating, causing heat to build up. As a result, a fire started either within the pipe or in the wall or attic area.”

Hullinger said that in the 1990s, there were several fires in Troy that involved the Majestic brand metal double- and triple-wall chimneys in simulated brick exterior enclosures.

Hullinger said that the builder constructing the homes in the 1970s used this model in most of the homes involved in those fires. Homes in the Cypress Gardens, Lansdowne, Windmill Point and Tallman Drive subdivisions “have been identified as having homes with these types of chimney systems and have experienced fires from these same conditions,” the release states.

The Troy Fire Department warned residents with triple-wall metal chimneys not to use their fireplace until the chimney and cap can be inspected and thoroughly cleaned.

“If you have this type of chimney, we recommend that your chimney be properly disassembled, thoroughly cleaned and properly reassembled with adequate screening placed around the chimney cap. A simple cleaning and visual inspection is not adequate for this triple-wall chimney assembly.

“After inspecting several of these chimneys and talking with several chimney installers and cleaners, we have determined that it is unlikely that a cleaning and inspection that is done without completely dismantling the chimney and fire box will guarantee the air flow pipes around the flue are clear of debris. Converting the fireplace to gas logs is also not a guarantee that a fire would not start,” the release states.

Fire officials said that while they can’t recommend a specific chimney contractor to perform this type of work, they do suggest that residents look online for qualified chimney contractors that are licensed and insured, and that they explain the type of cleaning and inspection needed.

The company that carries the Majestic brand could not be reached for comment by press time.