Amateur video captures massive house fire in Menomonee Falls

CREATED Dec. 3, 2013 - UPDATED: Dec. 3, 2013

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MENOMONEE FALLS -- With an arctic blast headed out way, several families in southeast Wisconsin may be bringing in wood to the fireplace.

Firefighters, however, are issuing strong warnings against lighting fires without adequately preparing.
 
"It is the time of year where people don't think of those things," Battalion Chief James Mollett of Menomonee Falls Fire Dept. tells TODAY'S TMJ4. "They turn on the fire and furnace but don't think about cleaning it first."
 
Mollett points to a fire Monday night in a Menomonee Falls neighborhood that shot up the chimney and torched a large house, forcing the homeowners and their pets to evacuate.
 
Investigators haven't pinpointed the exact cause, but they confirmed to TODAY'S TMJ4 homeowners did light a fire in the fire place.
 
The U.S. Fire Administration issues the following tips for homeowners who plan to use their fireplaces and wood-burning stoves this winter:
  • Have your chimney or wood stove inspected and cleaned annually by a certified chimney specialist.
  • Clear the area around the hearth of debris, decorations and flammable materials.
  • Leave glass doors open while burning a fire. Leaving the doors open ensures that the fire receives enough air to ensure complete combustion and keeps creosote from building up in the chimney.
  • Close glass doors when the fire is out to keep air from the chimney opening from getting into the room. Most glass fireplace doors have a metal mesh screen which should be closed when the glass doors are open. This mesh screen helps keep embers from getting out of the fireplace area.
  • Always use a metal mesh screen with fireplaces that do not have a glass fireplace door.
  • Install stovepipe thermometers to help monitor flue temperatures.
  • Keep air inlets on wood stoves open, and never restrict air supply to fireplaces. Otherwise you may cause creosote buildup that could lead to a chimney fire.
  • Use fire-resistant materials on walls around wood stoves.
For more information, click here.