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Fireplace gapping causes Walters home to catch fire

WALTERS, Okla._A man trying to stay warm in these sub-freezing temperatures ended up catching his house on fire Monday morning in Walters.

The Walters Fire Department responded quickly enough that they were able to contain the fire and keep it from spreading to the entire house. Tom Dial, the man living in the home, said he built a fire in his fireplace and the next thing he knew there was smoke coming from the ceiling and then after going out to his backyard and seeing flames he called the fire department, "I was trying to put it out with the water hose and it was too far gone."

Dial has lived in the home for fourteen years and while it is severely damaged he said he didn't lose much, "There wasn't really nothing of value, just pictures and stuff like that. They got all the stuff taken out, just mainly water damage."

Walters Assistant Fire Chief, Clarence Bivins explained that the separation between the concrete blocks in the fireplace let the fire get into the walls, "The thing about that is we usually run on one to three fireplace fires a year. It either goes in through the floor and catches the underneath of the house on fire or it will find like it did today and go through into the walls."

Bivins cautions if you have a fireplace there are two things you must do every year, "You always need to clean the chimneys out and that will stop a lot of the fires, just cleaning the soot out of the chimney vents and then also have the main fire area inspected by somebody that knows what they are doing."

Unfortunately, Dial had not had his chimney inspected or cleaned out. A neighbor, Roy Elkins, believes the fire department did a great job putting the fire out fast, "We heard the sirens this morning. Got up and looked out and saw all the smoke coming out from the top of the house and I started praying, hoping everything was okay."

"But yeah, I can deal with it. It's just part of life, you fix it and go on," Dial said he works in construction so he'll be fixing his house himself but for the time being he and his dogs will be living in his RV.

He was just happy he and his three dogs were fine.

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