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South Whidbey roof burns up

A chimney caused the top of a home near Freeland to go up in flames Sunday afternoon.

The house, located on Clearview Lane, caught fire about 12:30 p.m. Sunday, March 23, shortly after the two homeowners started a fire in the fireplace. South Whidbey Fire/EMS Chief Rusty Palmer said firefighters from his department knocked down the flames quickly and were at the property checking for flare-ups and hot spots for about 30 minutes.

Neither of the two residents were injured by the fire or smoke, and were able to gather some of their first-floor belongings before firefighters made them evacuate. Flames were mostly contained to the roof, and Palmer estimated the damage to be about $40,000.

Chimneys built too close to wood beams or other combustible fuels can, over time, dry out and ignite, he said. In this case, the chimney is believed to have been too close to the roof and started the fire.

“The longer it’s exposed to that heat, it just dries it out and can actually lower the ignition temperature by 50 percent,” Palmer said. “It was really close. It was so charred it was hard to say what it was initially, but it was nearly in contact on one side.”

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