Professional chimney sweep talks chimney safety

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It's cold here in the Black Hills and folks are heating up those fireplaces.

But what can you do to keep your chimneys safe and clean?

Mike Donahue is a professional chimney sweep from Dakota Chimney and Restoration out of Spearfish.

He says to know if your chimney needs maintenance, check if the spark arrestor is clean and if there's any creosote - a crusty black substance - dripping down the outside of your chimney.

Chimney Sweep Mike Donahue says, "Maintenance and having somebody like me or a professional look inside them and look them in the face eye to eye and tell them they're burning properly. But remember number one rule is that safe burning habits start with the homeowner - burning cured wood and burning a good oxygen supply to that."

Battle Creek Fire Department Public Information Officer Steven Monteforte says, "Chimney fires are not as common as your regular kitchen fire, but people not being able to take care of their chimneys, what they put into their fireplace is also a big issue."

To prevent chimney fires, make sure it's not clogged and have a guard in front of it.

Monteforte says you should get your chimney professionally cleaned once a year.