On one of the coldest nights in December to date, the family was using two space heaters and a fireplace to stay warm.
But the chimney wasn’t designed to handle a large fire, and by early Tuesday morning flames had spread to the attic, a fire official said.
The fire was reported shortly before 2 a.m. in the 1100 block of North Poplar, a Sedgwick County dispatch supervisor said. That’s just northeast of Ninth and Grove.
“They used the chimney designed for a wood burning stove as a fireplace,” Fire Lt. Joe Evans said of the family. “There was a hole in the chimney that caused a fire.”
The flames spread into the attic, Evans said. Damage to the house was set at $25,000, well above the structure’s appraised value.
The Red Cross was called out to assist the family of seven.
Evans said the incident serves as a reminder to use fireplaces and chimneys properly.
“When you go and use them for what they’re not intended for, you run into issues such as this,” Evans said.
The chimney for the 82-year-old house was built to handle smoke from an exterior wood-burning stove, he said. Flue pipes connected the stove to the chimney.
Home owners who have chimneys in their houses should have them cleaned and inspected annually to reduce the risk of fires that start as a result of cracks or other flaws, Evans said.