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Wood stove eyed  in Orange blaze

ORANGE — Fire Chief Dennis Annear said the preliminary investigation of the fire Saturday night at 41 West Myrtle St. points to the wood stove.

Orange firefighters said the building, a two-story wood frame single-family home, is a total loss, but no one was hurt.

Annear said he believes there was only one resident, and she was away from home at the time of the fire, reported at 7:53 p.m.

The Erving, Athol, Phillipston, New Salem, Shutesbury, Gill and Warwick departments turned out to help fight the stubborn blaze.

Wood stoves have been suspected or found to be the cause of several building fires recently, including the two-alarm fire Sunday afternoon in Northfield, the garage fire in Colrain Jan. 6 and another Orange house fire in late October.

Annear recommended that homeowners have their chimneys and stove piping checked at least once a year by a licensed, certified and insured inspector. Area fire departments and police have warned of a chimney cleaning and repair scam operating in the area recently.

Jennifer Mieth, spokeswoman for the State Fire Marshal’s Office, also recommended an inspection and cleaning at the beginning of the heating season and mid-winter if the stove is heavily used. Mieth said the inspection is important because heat can escape from cracks and ignite structural members.

Mieth said proper disposal of ash is another major concern for her department, and recommends placing ash in a tightly sealed metal container far away from the home, other structures or anything inflammable.

Mieth also recommends burning seasoned hardwood because it produces less creosote buildup in the chimney, the condition responsible for most chimney fires.

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