After deadly house fire in Lenexa, experts urge homeowners to get fireplaces checked

LENEXA, Kan. -- Record lows this week may have you thinking about lighting your fireplace. But both fire prevention specialists and certified chimney sweeps say they pose dangers if they aren`t properly cleaned and inspected.

A Lenexa family had just used their fireplace for the first time this season Saturday night when fire investigators say a fire broke out a few hours later in the area of the fireplace, killing 72-year-old Bill Pardue. Investigators have yet to say definitively the gas fireplace was to blame but are cautioning homeowners.

"Make sure if you`re burning wood or gas that you contact a professional to come out and look at it," Lenexa Division Chief Andrew Diekemper said.

Jeremy Biswell, president of Fluesbrothers Chimney Service, said more often than not people buy a home with a fireplace without really knowing that much about using or maintaining them.

"Usually it`s lack of service, lack of maintenance, lack of having the thing checked out," he listed as the primary causes of chimney fires.

Seasonal inspections are highly recommended, though there are some red flags you can spot on your own.

"Maybe open the damper. Look up. If anything falls maybe, we definitely need to have that service done," Biswell said.

Wood-burning fireplaces are more prone to creosote build ups that are not only flammable, but can also eat away at your chimney. Of course, gas fireplaces can have problems, too.

Right now is the busy season for chimney sweeps, so you may have to wait a month or more to get them out to your home.