Richard Jones has been taking a closer look after firefighters were called to blazes at seven thatched cottages in Hampshire and Dorset. His report includes interviews with Dan Tasker from Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service and master thatcher Jason Morley.
Owners of thatched properties are being urged to check the safety of their chimneys after a spate of fires on Good Friday.
At the peak of the fires, around 200 firefighters from across the country were engaged in battling the thatch blazes in Hythe, Wherwell near Andover and East Meon.
Early investigations suggest all three fires were caused by sparks or heat from the chimney or the liner. With the chilly weather set to continue, Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service is urging people to check their chimneys are equipped to deal with the fires they are lighting.
– Dan Tasker, Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service
The outbreak of fires on Good Friday suggests people are still using their open fires and log burners due to the unseasonably cold weather. But these fires can cause huge problems, particularly in thatched properties, if chimneys are not properly maintained.
The frequency of sweeps will depend on the material being burned, with chimneys over wood fires needing more regular sweeps than those with coal or oil. With people still using fires into the spring months, additional sweeps may also be required.==
He added: "It is crucial that flues and liners are properly checked by professionals and that chimneys are regularly swept. With regular maintenance most chimney fires are preventable and we can avoid the sort of destruction seen with the recent thatch fires."