- Department of Fire Services
Media Contact for Williamstown Chimney Fire Prompts Heating Season Reminder
Jake Wark, Public Information Officer
WILLIAMSTOWN — Williamstown Fire Chief Craig A. Pedercini and State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey said that a fire at a Williamstown automotive shop started in the chimney, prompting a reminder to have flues cleaned and chimneys inspected each year.
The Feb. 10 fire on Henderson Road was reported at about 10:00 pm by the owner, who was next door when he saw flames coming from the roof at the rear of the building, which is constructed of cinder blocks and wooden trusses. Williamstown firefighters fought the blaze for about six hours, assisted by mutual aid companies from Clarksburg and Pownal, Vermont.
The Williamstown Fire Department and the State Police Fire & Explosion Investigation Unit assigned to the State Fire Marshal’s office jointly investigated the fire. Investigators determined that it began in the chimney, which was fed by a woodstove in use at the time. This fire spread through the trusses and caused burning material to fall to the floor, spreading the flames. In addition to structural damage to the building, a pickup truck parked inside was also badly burned.
“When wood burns, it creates a tarry substance called creosote,” said Chief Pedercini. “When creosote builds up on the flue in a chimney, it can ignite and cause a fire. Cracks in the flue or mortar can allow flames and gases, including carbon monoxide, to escape the chimney, spread through the structure, and put everyone inside at risk.”
“If you use a fireplace, woodstove, or pellet stove, it’s important to have your flue cleaned and chimney inspected once a year to prevent fires like this one,” said State Fire Marshal Ostroskey. “This is usually done before heating season begins, but it’s not too late to have it done now. It could save your home, your business, or your life.”
In 2020, there were 539 fire incidents involving chimneys, fireplaces, and woodstoves. These fires were responsible for three civilian injuries, six firefighter injuries, and $3.4 million in property losses. The incidents made up 41% of all fires linked to heating systems.
For more information on home heating safety, visit www.mass.gov/keepwarmkeepsafe.