Recent fire a reminder to get chimney cleaned before temperatures drop

(Wintergreen Fire & Rescue)

WINTERGREEN, Va. (WSET) -- A family of four is alive and well after a fire broke out inside their home that had no working smoke detectors.

Thankfully a neighbor was there to alert them.

While it's unclear if the family had their chimney cleaned or checked out for this season, fire officials said what they do know is that the family used it for one of the first times Friday night, and it seems that is what started the fire.

"The neighbor had gotten up to have her morning coffee and walked out on the deck as I understand it and noticed the side of the house next door was on fire," said Chief of Wintergreen Fire & Rescue, Curtis Sheets.

If it weren't for that neighbor, they said the damage could be much worse.

"You need all the time you can get to get out," Chief Sheets said.

Since chimeys have been dormant all summer long, Trey Crawford, Chief of Fire Operations, said you need to have them inspected by a chimney sweep.

"They can check for build up, clean it if neccesary and then see if there's any damage you need to repair or make reccomendations on how to fix that," Chief Crawford said.

Fire officials say another issue for this fire, the smoke detectors in the house didn't work.

That smoke the family slept through is toxic and could have killed them, which is why it's crucial you replace your batteries regularly to make sure the alarms work.

"It could be the difference between having a safe and warm winter or having no house at all, and ultimately the worst case scenario is somebody in the family gets hurt," Chief Crawford said.

Fire officials said the insurance company is investigating to be sure the fire did start in the chimney, but said it most likely did.

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