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Last Week's House Fire Started from Long Unused Fireplace

Firefighters offer safety tips for using a fireplace after a house fire last week that started in a fireplace that had not been used in a long time.

The fire that damaged a Whipple Street home last week was caused when hot embers from the fireplace came in contact with combustibles parts of the home.

That’s according to Lt. Jim Brooks, the fire prevention officer for the Danvers Fire Department.

A visiting nurse who was showing up to a nearby home detected the fire early.

Terri Puglisi of Gloucetser was pulling into a nearby driveway at about 12:30 p.m. last Monday when she looked up and saw smoke coming from the home at 16 Whipple St.

“I ran up to the top of the hill to make sure it was really what I was seeing,” she said.

The fire was clearly on fire and Puglisi called 911.

Nobody was hurt in the fire, said Fire Capt. Robert Pyburn.

And he credited Puglisi for spotting the fire.

“If she hadn’t spotted it, it would have been worse,” Pyburn said.

The fire was contained to the wall, he said, and there was some damage to the fireplace where firefighters had to remove some bricks and to the wall where firefighters had to open the wall to make sure it was fully extinguished.

“It’s not a total loss,” Pyburn said. “They will be able to get back in there after repairs.”

Middleton firefighters assisted Danvers firefighters as a rapid intervention team” at the fire. And during the fire, an engine from both Beverly and Salem and a ladder from Wenham covered the town. Danvers firefighters were at the scene for about two hours.

Right after the fire, Pyburn said “we know it started around the fireplace.” Brooks said this week it was determined that it originated in the fireplace.

The home was recently purchased and the new resident “took all of the correct measures that anyone should do when purchasing a new home,” Brooks said.

She had the chimney inspected because the previous owner said that it had not been used in a very long time.

“The chimney was cleaned and inspected and in some small areas repaired,” Brooks said. “Unfortunately there were some areas that were not visible and may have allowed embers to reach combustible areas of the structure.”

Brooks offers these safety tips and advice for homeowners with fireplaces that plan to use them this winter:

1. Have your fireplace and chimney inspected and cleaned annually.

2. Make sure that your fireplace is cleaned after each use.

3. Discard any embers in a safe area in a non-combustible container.

4. If you use Duraflame logs, use only one log at a time.

5. When using a fireplace, always supervise its use and keep flammables a safe distance from the opening.

6.  Make sure that a screen or glass door is used while fireplace is being used.

7. Always remember it’s not the fireplace that is dangerous -  it is the people using it that can make the difference.

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