There’s been a rash of fires in homes all over Norway in recent days, and firefighters are blaming the onset of bitterly cold temperatures. Several of the fires have started in the chimneys of homes.
More than 20 chimney fires have been reported since Wednesday afternoon, most of them in the counties of Agder, Hordaland and Østfold. With electricity rates going up this winter and bitter cold outdoors, homeowners are using their fireplaces and wood-burning ovens more than ever to warm up.
Firefighters blame the use of wood that’s not completely dry. It can form soot inside chimneys that in turn can catch fire under heavy usage.
Emergency crews in Oslo alone responded to five major fires within 18 hours this week, one of which killed an elderly woman home alone and another that left a homeowner suffering from burns and smoke inhalation.
“It’s an unusual situation,” Fire Chief Jon Myrvoldhaug told newspaper Aftenposten. “Right now, when it’s so cold, folks are firing up their ovens and fireplaces and more electricity is being used, too.” The causes of the fires weren’t confirmed, but Myrvoldhaug urged residents to be careful in their efforts to stay warm: “Test your smoke detectors and make sure fire extinguishers are working.”