Marblehead fire crews battle two house fires, chief has warning about chimneys

It was a busy couple of days for Marblehead firefighters, who battled fires in two local homes.

On Tuesday, Dec. 27, crews responded to a single-alarm fire in the attic at 247 Atlantic Ave. No one was hurt, but the fire did displace two people.

Fire crews respond to an attic fire in a home on Atlantic Avenue COURTESY PHOTO / TYLER MERULLO

“It originated above a bathroom light or ceiling fan and rolled across the attic for a while,” Fire Chief Jason Gilliland told the Marblehead Current. “Somebody passing by spotted the flames and knocked on their door.”

Then on Thursday, Dec. 29, crews responded to a chimney fire at a home at 28 Orne St.

“There were pretty heavy sparks and embers coming out of the chimney,” Gilliland said. “We went in and put a couple of dry powder extinguishers up the chimney. That didn’t work, so we put a ladder up to the chimney, pulled the chimney cap off and put a chimney snuffer down.”

A chimney snuffer is similar to a sprinkler with a torpedo-shaped head that shoots out a controlled amount of water.  

“It was still burning pretty good so we resorted to old-style chimney chains to knock down the creosote. We got it taken care of.” Creosote is a black, tar-like substance that forms inside chimneys when smoke doesn’t entirely escape.

This is the third chimney fire so far this season, Gilliland said. He had a message for people living in homes with chimneys.

“We encourage people to make sure before they use their fireplaces and wood stoves to get their chimneys cleaned and, if they’re not lined, they should get them lined.” The Orne Street resident had a lined chimney which had been cleaned this fall, Gilliland said.

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Leigh Blander is an experienced TV, radio and print journalist who has written hundreds of stories for local newspapers, including the Marblehead Reporter. She also works as a PR specialist.

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