Smoky house fire N. of Bend traced to fireplace

Prompts reminder to have them cleaned, inspected

BEND, Ore. - Bend firefighters said they were called early Sunday to a home filling with smoke north of town, then spent hours dismantling the fireplace area to find the fire and extinguish it. They also reminded fireplace and woodstove owners to have regular cleanings and inspections.

Fire crews responded around 6:35 a.m. to the report of smoke coming from under a home owned by Austin Smith at 64571 Joe Neil Road in the Boonesborough subdivision, said Battalion Chief Dave Howe.

They arrived to find smoke coming into the house from around the fireplace, Howe said.

"After extensive dismantling of the fireplace and surrounding members, we found the sill plate adjacent to the fireplace smoldering and burning," Howe said in a news release. "We were able to prevent any further damage to the structure."

Losses were estimated at $10,000 to the structure and none to the contents.

Deputy Fire Marshal Cindy Kettering said later an investigation determined the mortar between the fireplace box and hearth had failed, allowing hot embers to fall between the two, into the sub-flooring, and spark the fire.

Kettering reminded homeowners to ensure fireplaces and woodstoves are cleaned and inspected by a qualified professional at least once a year.

Cleaning could be needed more frequently, she said, depending on how often a fireplace or woodstove is used.

"Regular inspections of a fireplace will ensure that any cracks or other issues are identified and addressed – before an incident occurs," Kettering said.

Howe added another reminder, to call 911 if there's smoke coming from around a fireplace, hearth or chimney.

Early detection and a quick alarm "is critically important to confining the fire and limiting damage to your home," the battalion chief added.

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