For immediate release: At approximately 3:15 AM this morning (December 3) the Northshore Regional Emergency Communications Center received a 911 call from a resident on Porter Meadow Road reporting an odor of smoke in the home as well as smoke coming from a wall inside the building. Chief Collins-Brown, arrived minutes later and Assumed command, confirming via radio that there was an odor and smoke coming from the baseboard on floor 1 in the area of the fireplace. The chief requested that Engine 3 bring tools, a pressurized water extinguisher, and a “dry” hose line be advanced to the front door. Since the fire occurred during unstaffed hours and the weather made it difficult for off duty personnel to respond to the station promptly and staff the apparatus, Engine 3 arrived after ten minutes with four members. Truck 1 arrived with 3 more members at approximately 20 minutes later, again delayed from members coming in from off duty in the weather. To assist on scene, an engine from Boxford was requested to the fire as well and engine companies from Wenham and Danvers and a ladder company from Middleton to cover the town and man the station in the event that the fire grew unexpectedly. Members spent over an hour opening walls and floors in the home to locate and extinguish all the burning material. The fire was caused by a build-up of burning creosote and embers inside the flu cleanout that had built up and reached extremely high temperatures from smoldering for hours. These high levels of heat heated the clay liner in the flu to the point where the wood parts of the structure also became superheated and began to combust in the walls. After the burning material inside the flu was removed and extinguished, the rest of the fire in the walls was snuffed out. After the fire was brought under control, crews had to ventilate the smoke from the house, monitoring the air quality to make sure any latent Carbon Monoxide was also removed. There were no injuries on scene and the damage is estimated to be $60,000.00 from fire, smoke, and water damage. Luckily the homeowners happened to be up and noticed the smoke in the house, the fire could have run undetected inside the walls and eventually become much hotter and larger had the residents not called 911 or been fortunate enough to notice the smell and presence of smoke. Chief Collins-Brown thanks our mutual aid partners for coming to assist the Town of Topsfield as well as the members that responded and worked hard to keep the fire small and protect the majority of the home. We advise anyone with a fireplace or wood stove to always remember to have annual service done as well as a liner inspection by a professional, particularly of the liner in your flu is made of clay which is much more susceptible to cracks from high heat leading to the possibility of hidden fires in the walls.