Drought in the Heartland leading to fireplace dangers

LENEXA, Kan. - Chimneys should be cleaned and inspected every single year. That's standard advice from any chimney sweep. But this year, that maintenance could be even more essential.

Lenexa, Kan., homeowner Jason Purcell has only been in his house for eight months. It came with a fireplace, though Purcell admitted he knows little about its maintenance.

"The last thing I want to do is burn down a new house," Purcell said.

That's why he called Dana Marconett, owner of Chimney Medic in Belton, Mo. Marconett is always busy around the holidays, but he said this winter he is noticing something dangerous in many homes.

"I've had a lot, several chimneys pulled away from houses this year because of foundation issues," Marconett said.

He said it's due to the drought.

Marconett said when chimneys move, they can crack, creating a place for highly-flammable creosote to build up. He said that can spark an especially-scary type of fire.

"These fires are dangerous because they get under the wall and go up into the ceiling and attic and don't set off your smoke detectors," Marconett said.

He said a standard chimney cleaning costs $115 and it can prevent a whole list of potential damages.

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