Dumb and Dangerous Things People Do When Burning Wood


At Lindemann Chimney Supply, we like to pass along things that are learned either by us or by other people we know. We also pass along things we read about. Sometimes it’s hard to get through to someone just how dumb and dangerous it is to not only ignore fire codes but to throwcommon sense “out the window” when burning wood. Here are some D & D things people have done.

One morning (in the early 30’s) Anna and her sister were up early and wanted to quickly restart the woodstove for a family dinner. Ignoring what her husband had told her many times, she grabbed the kerosene (or maybe it was gas) and poured it into the firebox. She had probably done this 100 times. Yet this morning conditions were right for a flashback. What happened is that a spark in the stove firebox ignited the fumes from the fuel, which were at just the right temperature, causing a flash of fire back into the fuel can which quickly exploded eventually killing both women and burning the house down. This was my Grandpa’s first wife and it was very hard on the family. She left behind 3 small children.


Skip forward thirty years toa very close relative of mine who took the real dry Christmas tree outside and threw it in the burn barrel on top of burning papers (pre-recycling – this wasback in the 60’s). She already had the fire going and didn’t think about the tree being so dry.It “exploded” into flames burning her and singing her hair, eyebrows, arms, etc. At the time, this was a grown woman, with 7 children and lots on her mind.

Fast-forward to today where dumb and dangerous things are still being done accidentally. In the last couple of weeks at least three people set their house on fire from not being “aware” that they weren’t disposing of their ashes properly. One put the ashes in a bag. One put them in a bucket that caught fire. One took the bucket outside with hot coals in them but set it on a pile of leaves on a windy day.


Today there was a story about a young girl and her aunt being burned. A paint can was picked up and without thinking used to hit a nail in the fireplace mantle to hang a stocking (the fireplace was burning). Again, a flashback was involved. The nail penetrated the aerosol, the fumes escaped the can, met with the sparks in the fireplace, flashed back to the can where it burned the person holding it. They dropped it by or into the fireplace and it exploded.

A couple of other incidents recently involved leaving the glass doors/fire screens open. A dog pushed an air mattress into a burning gas fireplace when the family was in another room and caused a fire. Another family left the glass door/spark screens open and a spark ignited nearby combustibles.

My point of this blog is that if you see fuel cans, airfreshenersprays, evergreen wreaths, garland, Christmas Trees, or anything that looks like a potential danger near your homeowner’s fireplace, woodstove or other heating source, PLEASE point it out to them. Also, reiterate how important it is toNOT leave the fire unattended and USE THOSE SPARK SCREENS! And DON’T burn their tree, wrapping paper, etc. in the fireplace! These people didn’t wake up and say “I’m going to hurt myself today or do something dumb”. They just have no concept of what could happen! Chances are, if you enlighten them you will be saving their life either this year or in the years to come. Sooner or later they will run out of dumb luck.

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