When I was really young, my house almost burned down. It was one of those things I remember seeing all the news all of the time and thinking “this could never happen to me.” My parents were always so careful with everything from electrical outlets to checking cables to dumping a bucket of water on the hoat coals in the fireplace at night. However, my parents were not careful enough. What began as a nice little fire to ward off the winter chill without turning up the central heating and air conditioning, quickly turned into a 911 call. The fire had managed to spread. It didn’t move out of the fireplace though, but rather up it. My parents were dealing with their first ever chimney fire. It was on that night with me and my brother, my mom, and the dogs on the lawn, that my dad learned how to care for a fireplace. Ever since then, my dad was rigorous in his schedule of fireplace maintenance and he would not let us forget it. I still know the steps today. Avoid wood with lots of sap. Be sure to sweep your chimney at least once a year. Don’t burn paper with lots of ink; try to avoid burning paper and cardboard as much as is possible. You can also use chemical mixes which stop creosote from building up inside your fireplace in the first place. Since that day, I’ve rented multiple places with working fireplaces. And even though it’s been over a decade, I do my utmost to keep the fireplace or wood burning stove safe to use.