A Suffolk chimney sweep and the county's fire and rescue service have urged residents to have their flues swept regularly as the winter cold draws in. 

There are many hundreds of properties in Suffolk which have solid-fuel stoves but, according to chimney sweep Rory Coxhill, from Stanstead, near Sudbury, these can pose a real safety risk.

He warned that in the surge in demand for solid-fuel burners, buyers must learn how to look after their fires safely, and added that the heavy rain in recent weeks has left many flues soaked and unable to draw the smoke up the chimney efficiently.

Rory said: ”Chimney stacks - especially those on the side of property – have been thoroughly soaked in the recent heavy rain and become inefficient.

“They are saturated and this leads to a build up of gasses if a fire is lit and doesn’t draw properly. The answer is to keep the chimney swept – and start a fire with kindling, building up the logs.”

East Anglian Daily Times: A chimney sweep and the fire service have urged residents to get their flues cleaned to prevent firesA chimney sweep and the fire service have urged residents to get their flues cleaned to prevent fires (Image: Charlotte Bond)

Earlier this year, a row of historic cottages in Hengrave, near Bury St Edmunds, were destroyed after a fire that was found to have almost certainly been started by a spark from a wood-burning stove.

Mr Coxhill said the type of wood burnt and the maintenance of the flue or chimney is vital for safety.  

A Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service said: “As colder nights draw in people will begin using open fires or wood burners more frequently so it is important that they are maintained and cleaned properly as a blocked or defective chimney can cause carbon monoxide poisoning.

“We recommend chimneys are cleaned regularly - the best times to have them swept are just before the start of the heating season and after any prolonged period of shut-down.

“As carbon monoxide is odourless, always have a carbon monoxide alarm in the same room as the fire to alert you to any issues.”