Several attic fires reported in the Northwest Arctic Borough recently, point to a common issue that may have contributed to the fires. The structures involved in these fires were all part of a weatherization project this last summer. Extra insulation was blown into the attic area over the top of the existing insulation to help prevent heat loss from the home. Fire officials report that the blown in insulation was filling the normal air space that is required around the chimney in the attic space. This air space is required to prevent ignition of combustible materials near the chimney.
The Alaska Division of Fire and Life Safety recommend that all Alaskans follow these safety tips to keep their homes safe and warm this winter.
- Check your attic to make sure there is at least a 2.5 inch air space between the insulation and the chimney.
- Make sure the chimney does not touch any combustible materials in the attic or roof area.
- Only use chimney components that have been approved by an independent testing lab such as UL.
- Burn dry seasoned fire wood in your wood stove or fire place.
- Keep chimney clean to prevent chimney fires.
- Have your heating equipment and chimney checked regularly by a qualified technician.
- Keep electrical wires away from the chimney area.
- Install and test smoke alarms in all rooms except the kitchen and bathroom.
- Install and test Carbon Monoxide alarms, at least one on each floor of the home.
Making sure that your home is insulated well for Alaska’s long winters is important. Proper installation of the insulation is crucial to prevent a devastating home fire.
Alaska State Fire Marshal Kelly Nicolello adds, “Fire safe behavior can keep a fire from starting. Working smoke alarms, planning and practicing your fire escape plan and adding residential fire suppression sprinklers can ensure your family’s safety from a fire.”