A shocking fire in Chelmsford, Essex, on Monday 8th August 2022, started by a chiminea destroyed 15 gardens, and 40 people had to evacuate their homes! The ground is so dry right now everywhere in the UK, and we need to refrain from starting any outdoor fires until the heatwave is over.
As some outlets ban the sale of disposable BBQs (honestly who uses them anyway?!) we chiminea users can do the right thing and postpone our fires till later in the year.
Please stop using all chimineas, firepits, and BBQs until the heatwave is over and conditions get back to normal. The ground is like dry tinder ready to go up with just a single stray ember, and it’s really not worth the potentially devastating risk to property and even life.
Thankfully, in Essex, there were no reports of injuries, but they were lucky as it looks like this chiminea fire could have been much worse if not for the fire brigade who sent 70 firefighters to get it under control!
Why You Should Not Use A Chiminea in a Heat Wave
Here in despite the regular rain showers, the average temperature has soared this summer, making everything dryer than usual. So, if it’s like that in Scotland, imagine what it’s like further South in the UK!
Dryer than dry.
This means that not only gardens but any area that has vegetation is likely to be extremely flammable – a concept that we’re not used to here in the UK as we usually have a lot more rainfall to compensate for the dry spells.
Even if you take the precaution of soaking everything in your space before lighting a fire, with the air being so much warmer and it’s so much more conducive to carrying flying embers further, there is much more opportunity for something to go wrong, and it’s just too tricky to control.
Fire Precautions to Take Once Heatwave is Over
Unfortunately, the heat looks like it’s here to stay for a while – we do love it, but no chimineas is a tad devastating for someone like me who just loves to get a fire going on a summer evening and drink a glass of wine on the patio 😍 However, we must put chiminea safety first, especially when dealing ith fire as the consequences can be devastating.
There are a few safety precautions you can take when things get back to normal, and it’s safe to light a chiminea again.
- Always have a bucket of sand on standby – if at any point you want to dampen the fire, you can easily do so without the use of water and feel like you have control of the surrounding area.
- Know how to get quick access to water – the best, of course, being a garden hose, but even a bucket or watering can are better than nothing if you find a stray ember has caught light.
- Make sure there is a spark arrestor in your chiminea’s chimney – these are simple yet effective little barriers that drastically reduce the change of stray sparks and embers from escaping your chimney.
- Have fire-resistant gloves handy – these allow you to control your fire easily.
- Have fire tools ready – in particular large tongs or equivalent that you can move burning logs if required.
- Never place a chiminea under an awning – Always make sure there is clear sky above your chiminea. This lessens the likelihood of stray embers catching something as they float upwards.
- Always burn small fires – just a reminder as with chimineas you only ever need a few logs at most to have a successful fire, but this sis a must when you are being extra safe during hot months. The larger a fire is, the easier it is for it to set other stuff on fire.
- Keep clear from buildings an other structures – this is true despite what the structure is made of. Obviously wooden structures will present as more flammable, but make sure you are at least 6 feet from anything.
- Never use fire accelerants – never use these at any time in a chiminea as you really don’t need them. A piece of rolled up paper or small amount of wood shavings should be more than enough to get your fire going as a chiminea is designed to burn stuff. The physics of the convection
- Watch your fire – this is always really important but even more so when it’s dry. You should never leave your fire unattended. This is especially important when everything around is really dry and flammable.
With some common sense and a few different items to help you control your fire you’ll have peace of mind that you are firmly in control. If you do find something catching fire, you can deal with it quickly and avoid the risk of the fire spreading.
Rain Will Be Back Soon
Never fear, the rain will be back soon…as it is the UK after all! But until then, please put safety first and don’t light any fires until we get over this incredibly dry heatwave in August 2022.
The same goes for any part of the world that has experienced extremely dry weather this summer – save the fires for later in the year when there is more rainfall.
When it’s time to look again at chims, check out this cool selection for 2022.