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2 saved from house blaze
Fire noticed by quick-thinking passer-by
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Fire safety tips for when it's cold outside 

You should never smell smoke in your home; smoke is unhealthy to breathe. The odor of smoke in your home indicates that your wood stove is not operating efficiently or safely. An EPA certified wood stove burns wood efficiently, releasing 60 to 80 percent less smoke up the chimney.


Safety Begins at Installation

Using a wood stove safely starts with proper installation. EPA recommends using a certified professional installer as the best way to ensure correct, safe installation. A properly installed wood stove always has a vent to the exterior.


Safety Includes Yearly Maintenance

EPA and fire officials recommend having your wood stove, chimney, and vents professionally inspected and cleaned each year to keep them in safe working order. The Chimney Safety Institute of America provides a list of certified chimney sweeps, searchable by state. In addition, provides useful tips for wood stove operation and maintenance


Safe Wood Burning Practices

Keep all flammable household items — drapes, furniture, newspapers, and books — far away from your wood stove.

Start fires only with clean newspaper and dry kindling. Never start a fire with gasoline, kerosene, charcoal starter, or a propane torch.

Do not burn wet or green (unseasoned) logs.

Do not use logs made from wax and sawdust in your wood stove or fireplace insert — they are made for open hearth fireplaces. If you use manufactured logs, choose those made from 100 percent compressed sawdust.

Build small, hot fires. A smoldering fire is not a safe or efficient fire.

Keep the doors of your wood stove closed unless loading or stoking the live fire.

Regularly remove ashes from your wood stove into a metal container with a cover. Store the container of ashes outdoors on a cement or brick slab (not on a wood deck or near wood).

Keep a fire extinguisher handy.

Install and Maintain a Smoke Alarm


Install and Maintain a Carbon Monoxide Detector


Source: Environmental Protection Agency

Fast thinking from a passerby likely saved the lives of two Newton County residents when their home caught fire and began burning without their knowledge Monday morning.

Firefighters from the Newton County Fire Department received the call for assistance by the passerby, identified as Donnie Harris, at roughly 10 a.m. According to Captain Robert Thomas, Harris was driving by the house and noticed a fire in the back of the residence and thought someone was burning something. But when he drove a little further past he realized the flames he was seeing were coming from the walls of the back porch.

The large home, two stories and approximately 2,500 square feet, is located directly off of Highway 81 South. The elderly homeowners did not realize the house was on fire until Harris banged on their door, alerting them.

"He did everything right," said Thomas. "He reacting how we all hope our fellow citizens will react. I would call him a hero."

Although the home itself is still standing it is a total loss. There were no injuries in the blaze which officials believe was caused by ashes from a fireplace that were being emptied into a bucket outside which was placed too close to an outside wall. Thomas said the weather had no immediate bearing on the cause of the blaze but that firefighters had to be vigilant to make sure no one received frostbite due to the water and the extremely cold temperatures.

"We are very fortunate there were no injuries," Thomas said. "With a fire like this and in these conditions there could easily have been. We were very lucky."