Minnesotans Using Fireplaces Boosts Local Business Sector

Updated: 02/07/2014 4:21 PM KSTP.com By: Brandi Powell

A propane shortage, combined with this cold weather we’re having, is creating dangerous situations.

People are turning to using their often-neglected fireplaces. Some homeowners aren’t getting them cleaned or inspected. According to the State Fire Marshal there have been at least 10 chimney related fires so far this year. It’s all affecting a local type of business in a positive way.

Right now, business is booming for local chimney cleaning companies. They say they’re normally finished with their winter business by the end of Christmas- but not this year.

It’s cold outside, and people are looking for alternative ways to heat up inside, with their fireplaces.

“To save money people are burning more wood in their fire places, wood stoves, inserts, that they're not being real safe with the ashes from it, they're not getting their chimneys cleaned," said Jamie Novak, fire investigator with the St. Paul Fire Department.

Simple mistakes are costing people their homes. Nine of the ten chimney-related fires in Minnesota this month were in the Greater Minnesota area. The incident in the metro was just last week. Novak says "The person was burning both upstairs and downstairs in his wood stove and the clearances were too close and caught the wood mantle on the fire place, and luckily they caught it when it was really small."

Now, homeowners are heeding the safety call, and bringing in local chimney cleaning companies.

Adam Proto said, “Hot fly ash can get in there and create a fire, so our main concern is that there are no openings, breaches or gaps inside here, that everything's (fine) until it gets out of the top of the house you know.” Proto is a professional chimney cleaner with Golden Valley’s London Chimney Sweeps.

And they’re not just inspecting, they’re cleaning. Proto said when on-site, he “also…get(s) the soot out because that is a chimney fire…risk.”

London Chimney Sweeps employees tell KSTP they’re getting a record number of calls. “The last one of the day called and woke (an employee) up early and said, ‘hey, we need to get in right away,’ so everybody’s concerned about starting their chimneys on fire.”

It’s a safety issue that can be fixed, that’s also been stimulating the bottom line for a local business sector.