By Ray Pauley
Public Information Officer
Grand Island Fire Co.
At 2:45 p.m. Tuesday, March 24, Grand Island firefighters responded to a chimney fire at the West River Road residence of Larry Lloyd. A passerby noticed unusually heavy smoke billowing from a second story rooftop of this historic, more than 100-year-old structure and alerted the homeowner to immediately called 911 for emergency Grand Island Fire Co. assistance.
Fire Chief Matt Osinski stated heavy smoke was encountered when engines Nos. 3 and 4 and ladder truck No. 6 arrived on location with fire suppression crews. A rooftop team led by Fire Capt. Kevin Koch began extinguishment while interior crews activated Chimfex flares, which produce a smothering agent throughout the chimney. Additional dry chem and water application prevented extension into the structure itself. Extensive salvage operations also protected household possessions, including precious antiques, from water damage.
Meanwhile, mutual aid assistance was rendered by the City of Tonawanda and Sheridan Park volunteer fire departments.
The cause of the fire was identified as a heavy buildup of creosote within the chimney walls, which ignited and created blast furnace heat conditions.
Although there was no fire damage, structural damage of $2,500 occurred when the surrounding roof had to be opened for inspection to ensure that there was no fire spread.
The owner indicated that the fireplace had been in constant daily use throughout record-breaking cold temperatures in the past several months, which could have contributed to the creosote accumulation.
Osinski noted wood-burning fireplaces could result in incomplete combustion and creosote buildup hazards. It is therefore imperative that regular chimney inspection and cleaning be handled by a trained professional, he stressed.