Chimney fires are deadly and devastating to Oklahomans.

Every year fires take lives, homes, and businesses. The cost to the insurance industry is huge because insurance covers most types of fires.

One exception are fires that are intentionally set. Arson is a crime and no insurance policy will cover destroying property deliberately. Therefore, the cause of the fire is always an important factor.

If you’re an adjuster, it’s critical that accidental claims are paid. By the same token, arson fires  set by the insured should be denied. It’s essential to look at the cause for the fire and figure out how it started.

Fires can accidentally start for all sorts of reasons: candles, faulty wiring, fireworks, poor maintenance, etc. Chimney fires are sometimes the result of the wood that you burn. The residue from the wood attaches to the inside of chimney. It acts as an accelerant resulting in an unintended fire.

The cause of the fire is important for claims, but preventing the fire is more so. Certain fires cannot be avoided, they just happen. Some fires, such as chimney fires can be headed off with proper maintenance. It’s a good idea to keep your chimney clean and well maintained.

Ashley Eldridge, Director of Education at The Chimney Safety Institute of America, reports:

A chimney deteriorated by constant exposure to weather can be a potential safety hazard. Weather-damaged lining systems, flue obstructions and loose masonry materials all present a threat to residents. Regular chimney maintenance is essential to address damage, deterioration and future high-cost repairs.

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All masonry chimney materials (with the exception of stone) will suffer accelerated deterioration as a result of prolonged contact with water. Masonry materials deteriorate quickly when exposed to the freeze/thaw process, by which moisture that has penetrated the materials periodically freezes and expands, causing undue stress. Water in the chimney also causes rust in steel and cast iron, weakening or destroying the metal parts.

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Damaging Results of Water Penetration

Water penetration can cause interior and exterior damage to a masonry chimney and, by extension, the community itself including:

• Rusted damper assemblies
• Deteriorated metal or masonry firebox assemblies
• Rusted fireplace accessories and glass doors
• Rotting adjacent wood and ruined wall coverings
• Water stained walls and ceiling
• Clogged clean-out area
• Deteriorated central heating system
• Stained chimney exterior
• Decayed exterior mortar
• Cracked or deteriorated flue lining system
• Collapsed hearth support
• Tilted or collapsed chimney structure
• Chimney settlement

Fires occur when there is not good maintenance. Since some insurance policies have exclusions for damage caused by lack of proper maintenance or routine care, it pays to know what caused the fire. Aside from family safety, a routine inspection of the chimney by a qualified expert is peace of mind in many ways! It protects against fires that don’t have to happen.

Landlords and residential property managers need to protect their tenants and their properties with chimney inspections. Safety is always a primary concern. Civil liability can result in failing to properly maintain chimneys on apartments.

Our Tulsa based law firm has been involved in fire litigation and insurance claims for decades including chimney fires. We have assisted with all types of fire cases, innocent, legitimate claims as well as those with suspicions of arson and insurance fraud. Let us know if we can help you with your insurance claim. Call us 918-940-2222.