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      Fires more prevalent in winter

      When it comes to house fires, they can happen at any time, but there are some precautionary measures that should be taken to keep everyone safe.

      During the winter months, many people use alternative sources for heat like wood stoves, space heaters, and fireplaces, but fire safety experts say always be aware and understand the risks.

      "People with wood burning stoves especially should check their chimneys because a substance called creosote builds up in the chimney which can catch fire and cause a chimney fire," said Captain Mark Dennis with the Hancock Fire Department.

      Experts say chimneys should be inspected at least once a year by a certified chimney cleaner.

      Most homes are equipped with a fire extinguisher, but if you're unfamiliar with how to use one, the first step is to remove the pin. Then grab the extinguisher with your dominate hand, take the hose and aim it at the base of the fire. The final step is to squeeze the handle and make sure you use a back and forth movement to extinguish the fire correctly.

      Dan Riutta is the owner of Dan Riuttaâ??s Contracting and Sales, and he has been cleaning and repairing chimneys for the past 20 years. He says when it comes to wood burning stoves, they should always be in good condition.

      "The critical areas to watch for are the clearances like measuring the clearances for the stove pipe and the hearth protection. It's important to make sure that you have proper protection under the stove," said Riutta.

      Burning the wood at the proper temperature is also important.

      "You want to burn the stove hot, but you can burn it too hot unless everything else is in good condition," Riutta said.

      The ashes from the stove should always be placed in a metal container away from your home.

      Experts say if a fire breaks out and becomes uncontrollable, immediately leave the home and call the fire department.