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Burning trees felled in Storm Ciarán a ‘risk to life’

Storm Ciarán caused hundreds of trees to be felled, and some areas such as the Railway Walk remain closed. Picture: DAVID FERGUSON. (36968679)

ISLANDERS could be risking their lives by burning logs from trees felled by Storm Ciarán, the fire service has warned.

UUֱ Fire and Rescue Service said that burning damp wood that had been recently cut was “both dangerous and harmful to the environment”, producing carbon monoxide and potentially leading to chimney fires.

Thousands of trees were brought down by Storm Ciarán on 2 November. The subsequent Islandwide clean-up operation by the government, parishes, tree surgeons and volunteers continues, with many roads and paths still blocked.

In a statement, JFRS said: “Islanders should seek to avoid burning damp and/or unseasoned firewood due to a number of safety concerns.

“When unseasoned firewood burns, it produces carbon monoxide – which is odourless, colourless and highly toxic – and it can also cause creosote to form at a much faster rate than seasoned firewood would. A build-up of creosote – a highly flammable, oily substance – in a chimney can be very dangerous. It could lead to a chimney fire and it also blocks airflow. If the gases produced by the fire cannot be carried away, they can build up indoors. Most of these gases are dangerous to human health.

“Unseasoned firewood produces a lot of smoke (which could irritate the eyes and eventually give way to permanent lung-associated diseases) and acidic substances may form at the top of flues or chimneys. These substances could lead to the destruction of the metal liner.”

The fire service added: “Burning unseasoned firewood is both dangerous and harmful to the environment around because it does not burn efficiently. Instead of efficiently heating a room, for example, burning unseasoned firewood emits gases and smoke, polluting the atmosphere. Little heat is produced, and the high moisture content could put out a flame before you want to do so yourself. Unseasoned firewood barely produces heat to shield against cold weather.”

Tips about planning, building and burning bonfires safely are available at gov.je.

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