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Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Chimney with wood liner leads to house fire

By Jason Stuart

Ranger-Review Staff Writer

A bizarrely built chimney put a local home at risk last Friday but the damage was ultimately minimal thanks to quick action by the Glendive Fire Department.

The GFD was paged out at 11:24 a.m. last Friday to a report of a fire at 112 West Brennan Street, just around the corner from the Holiday convenience store on Merrill Avenue. The department responded with two fire engines and 11 firefighters.

GFD Chief George Lane said that upon arrival firefighters discovered the chimney of the home smoldering. Oddly, the source of the fire proved to be a layer of wood lining the chimney shaft. Lane said there was a wood stove attached to the chimney, noting that the stovepipe was insulated going nearly all the way up. But the wrap around the stovepipe ended before it reached the top of the chimney, leaving the top of the hot stovepipe exposed to the wood chimney liner. Lane explained that over time, as that wood liner was exposed to the heat from the stovepipe, it transformed into charcoal and finally reached a point where it caught fire.

“It doesn’t take very much heat in that charcoal state to ignite it, and that’s what happened,” Lane said.

Fortunately, no one was living in the home, and it was gutted for renovation, so there was no major fire or smoke damage, with all damage limited to the chimney area. Firefighters were able to extinguish the smoldering chimney and return to the station by about 1 p.m.

Lane noted that the whole situation was rather odd, adding that finding a wood liner on a chimney interior is something he’s just never heard of.

“I’ve never seen that,” he said.

The GFD was also called out Sunday night to a report of an apartment building at 221 South Pearson filled with smoke. The incident turned out to be something left on the stove in one of the apartments, which would be unremarkable except that Lane said the resident responsible has done virtually the same thing three times before — all on account of passing out from being severely intoxicated. 

Lane said on two previous occasions, the same gentleman passed out drunk with a lit cigarette, leading to near fires and a criminal charge in one case, while the most recent occasion before Sunday was another instance where he put something on the stove while inebriated and then passed out. Lane noted that the police had to bust down the door of the apartment on Sunday night, finding the resident passed out “buck naked” on the couch and something smoldering on the stove. Given the repeated pattern and the fact that it was in an apartment complex, Lane said he has asked Police Chief Brad Mitchell to consider filing further criminal charges against the man.

Reach Jason Stuart at rrreporter@rangerreview.com.

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