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Special Notices

Recent Email Notices

Crystal Lakes Volunteer Fire Department
January 29, 2023
Good morning!
With more frigid weather coming in, it's a good time to talk about the hazard of chimney fires that comes along with our use of wood-burning stoves, pellet stoves, and fireplaces to heat our homes. Every year, more than 20,000 residential fires begin as chimney fires.
Smoke from wood fires contains gases, wood particles, and various chemicals. As it moves up the chimney, the smoke cools and the compounds it contains condense, sticking to the inside of the chimney and forming a residue called creosote. Creosote is extremely flammable and can be ignited by sparks flying up the chimney or even the heat from your fire. Once a chimney has caught fire, it can be difficult to extinguish, and the fire can quickly spread to the rest of the house.
Creosote builds up over time, and as it builds up, the danger it poses and the difficulty of removing it increases — it’s initially flaky and easy to remove with a chimney brush, but the longer you allow it to build up, the harder it gets and the more flammable it becomes, ultimately turning into what’s essentially a concentrated fuel. To avoid chimney fires, you need to remove creosote while it's in that first stage and never let it get thicker and more dangerous.
You can minimize creosote buildup in your chimney by building fires that produce smoke containing fewer of the combustion byproducts that create it.
· Only burn dry, seasoned firewood. Allowing firewood to season (dry out for at least six months) will make it more like to burn completely and produce less smoke.
· Avoid burning artificial logs. They produce more combustion byproducts than regular wood.
· Build hot, clean-burning fires, not slow-burning, smoldering ones. Pack the logs tightly — with modest gaps in between for airflow — so the fire burns hotter and cleaner, and don’t restrict air flow before the fire really gets cooking. Your fire's not hot enough if it's smoldering, looking like it might die out, or the door glass is sooting up quickly.
· Make sure the fire has sufficient airflow. Open the damper before you light a fire to ensure it will get enough oxygen and keep the intake air vents open at least a bit throughout your burn so air can circulate.
· Reduce condensation by warming up your flue. If your chimney isn’t well insulated, the flue can get quite cold (especially on the days we most want to build a fire), and lighting your fireplace when the flue is cold will create more condensation and larger creosote deposits. Before starting your fire on cold days, warm up the chimney by lighting a branch, firelighter, or roll of newspaper and holding it up in the chimney or directly under the flue in your wood stove. When you see the smoke rising straight up, you’ll know that the flue is warm enough to draw properly and you can start your fire. (Making sure your flue is drawing properly also helps keep the smoke from invading your house instead of going up the chimney.)
The above steps will help slow creosote buildup but won’t stop it entirely — it’s a natural result of burning wood and can’t be entirely avoided. You’ll still need to clean your chimney periodically.
There are several commercially available products that can be burned in the fireplace to assist in the removal of creosote. Some come in the form of a firelog that you burn and some are powders that you spread on your fire. While these will help slow the build-up of creosote and may do some cleaning of the chimney, they’re not a substitute for manually cleaning it out. Therefore, we strongly recommend that you schedule an annual chimney cleaning and inspection to remove creosote and check for and repair any damage. Although pellet stoves burn more cleanly and deposit less creosote than wood stoves and fireplaces, there will still be some build-up, so having your chimney cleaned regularly is recommended even if you're using a pellet stove.
So… what if you didn’t have a chance to get your chimney cleaned this summer? How can you tell if your chimney’s caught fire? It’s an enclosed box, after all. The bad news is that it can be difficult to tell at first if a chimney fire has started, but there are a couple of signs you might notice:
· A loud roaring noise coming from the chimney.
· Popping and cracking noises in the chimney.
· Black smoke coming from the chimney.
· Ash and debris flying out of the top of the chimney.
What do you do if you think your chimney’s on fire?
· Call 911!
· Get everyone, including pets, out of the house. A chimney fire can become a whole house fire with frightening speed.
· If you can safely do so, close any doors or intake vents on the stove to limit oxygen to the fire.
· If you have a chimney fire suppressant product and can safely use it, do so. There are several commercially available products designed to smother chimney fires, which can be found by searching for “chimney fire suppressant” online. They include FireEx, Fire Stop, and ChimFex (which the fire department carries). They’re not very expensive and may slow down the fire until we can get there (or might even extinguish it). Make sure that the product you're relying on is a fire suppressant and not a creosote remover, and even if you think it’s put the fire out, still call the fire department in to confirm it. We can use our thermal imaging camera to check your chimney for any sign of continued combustion.
So remember — build clean-burning fires that produce minimal smoke, use creosote-removing products to limit its buildup, get your chimney cleaned and inspected every year, and consider purchasing a fire suppressant product designed for chimney fires and keeping it near your fireplace. These steps can go a long way toward preventing a chimney fire and protecting your home.
Thanks and stay safe!
Marian Kelly
Assistant Chief
Crystal Lakes Volunteer Fire Department

Practice Wildfire Safety

People start most wildfires - find out how you can promote and practice wildfire safety.

  • Contact your local fire department, health department, or forestry office for information on fire laws.
  • Make sure that fire vehicles can get to your home. Clearly mark all driveway entrances and display your name and address.
  • Report hazardous conditions that could cause a wildfire.
  • Teach children about fire safety. Keep matches out of their reach.
  • Post fire emergency telephone numbers.
  • Ensure adequate accessibility by large fire vehicles to your property.
  • Plan several escape routes away from your home - by car and by foot.
  • Talk to your neighbors about wildfire safety. Plan how the neighborhood could work together after a wildfire. Make a list of your neighbors' skills such as medical or technical. Consider how you could help neighbors who have special needs such as elderly or disabled persons. Make plans to take care of children who may be on their own if parents can't get home.

For more information on wildfire safety, visit the U.S. Fire Administration's website.



Warning Sirens

For the safety of the community, Crystal Lakes Associations has evacuations sirens posted throughout the Association. The evacuation siren in case of failure of the dam is located near the Wapiti Mailsheds to cover the floodplain area and sounds like this whoop sound:

MP3 audio file [163.5 KB]

Property owners in the floodplain should evacuate immediately if they hear this siren; all other property owners should remain on their lots, to keep the roads clear for those evacuating the floodplain.


Sirens in ALL parts of the association will sound the fire evacuation siren if a wildfire threatens the community -- it sounds like this alert sound:

MP3 audio file [168.6 KB]

ALL property owners should evacuate IMMEDIATELY if they hear this siren. Emergency personnel will be on hand to help direct evacuating property owners out of the area.

Where to Find Us:

Crystal Lakes Fire Protection District (CLFPD)

237 Blackfoot Road

Red Feather Lakes, CO 80545

970-881-3521 (Phone)

970-881-2085 (Fax)


Crystal Lakes Volunteer Fire Department (CLVPD)

237 Blackfoot Road

Red Feather Lakes, CO 80545

970-881-3521 (Phone)

970-881-2085 (Fax)


Click here for a map.

How to Contact Us

For more information, feel free to contact us by telephone, email, or by using our contact form. We look forward to hearing from you!


CL FIRES is dedicated to education, planning, and support in the areas of fire prevention and safety, wildland fire mitigation, and personal safety in the greater Crystal Lakes Community of Larimer County, Colorado.


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