15 Sep 2014
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Fire in Fireplace — What's the Big Deal?

Packing materials from a new fireplace insert caught fire, prompting a Novato house to smoke up.

Fire in Fireplace — What's the Big Deal?

It was a fire in a fireplace, but it was anything but routine.

Packing material around a newly installed gas fireplace insert caught fire Wednesday afternoon at a home in Novato's San Marin neighborhood, prompting a full response from the Novato Fire District as smoke started to fill up the house.

Captain Chris Wikeen said a construction worker at 290 San Felipe Way accidentally turned on a switch that ignited the system and sparked cardboard and Styrofoam to catch fire behind the insert's glass window at 12:49 p.m.

One worker placing the cover on the wall-mounted switch didn't know that another worker had fully hooked up the fireplace system, Wikeen said. "He inadvertently hit the ignition switch and it was off to the races," he said.

Firefighters took off the glass window and doused the flames with an extinguisher, then took the smoldering fake logs outdoors, Wikeen said. They checked the walls and attic for extensions to the fire and used pressurized ventilator to push smoke out of the home.

The only damage was in the smoky smell and some exterior charring on a vent on the house's exterior. The homeowner will have to buy new fake logs for the fireplace, he said.

Novato Fire responded to the single-alarm call with three engines, a fire truck, a medic unit and a battalion chief.

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