Fire safety tips for the cold weather

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Wood burning stoves and fireplaces are still popular ways for many people to keep warm.

"Even as we speak, people still rely upon wood burning as an alternative heat source - a lot of people own wood burning stoves," said Mark Linville, with Chimney Sweeps West.

But the Knoxville Fire Department said if you don't clean your chimney, something called creosote builds up - and that's dangerous.

"Water gets in. That water will combine and run down the inside of the chimney and mix with the creosote and that creates kind of like an acid I guess, and it will eat away the mortar in between the blocks. And once the mortar is eaten away, fire can get through that mortar and get out into the framing," said Captain DJ Corcoran, with the Knoxville Fire Department.

If you have a wood burning stove, you should clean your chimney once a year. As for fireplaces:

"It depends on how much you do use it of course. Just for Thanksgiving, Christmas, then it might go every two years. But if you really like to use your fireplace, it's wise to have it checked yearly," said Linville.

If you use kerosene heaters and space heaters, keep everything at least three feet away, and if it's a kerosene heater:

"Make sure that you use the proper fuel to refuel it, make sure that it's cool when you do it and preferably outside when you refuel one of these kerosene heaters. Another thing is carbon monoxide Make sure that you have proper ventilation," said Corcoran.

And of course, it's always important to have smoke alarms with working batteries. Fire fighters say if a fire does start, smoke detectors could save your life.

Heating fires are actually the number two cause of house fires. The leading cause? Kitchen fires - so make sure to keep a fire extinguisher on hand this Thanksgiving.

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