December sees a surge in chimney fires, especially in Cornwall, which on average has the highest proportion of such fires out of anywhere in the UK according to new data. 

The independent study indicates an alarming rise of 220% in daily chimney fire incidents in the UK during the final month of the year.

The research found that Cornwall was the area most at risk, with an average of 14.5 fires per 100,000 people each day, according to the research from Green Olive Firewood.

It found there were a total of 82 chimney fires in the Duchy last December. 

Explaining the risks generally, Green Olive Firewood said that creosote, a flammable substance generated when wood is burned, can ignite, causing a potential fire if the chimney is not routinely cleaned, especially before winter sets in.

The findings looked at the number of callouts to chimney fires per 100,000 people, for each fire and rescue service.

Below Cornwall in the rankings was Hereford and Worcester with an average of 11.3 fires per 100,000 people.

Cumbria with 11.2, Norfolk with 11.1, Devon and Somerset with 10.8, Northumberland with 10.7, Shropshire with 10.2, East Sussex with 9.7, Dorset and Wiltshire with 9.4, and Gloucestershire with 9 fires per 100,000 people, make up the rest of the top ten.

Last year, fire chiefs noticed an uptick in fires due to homeowners heating their homes using unswept chimneys.

Fire safety expert and Commercial Director of Green Olive Firewood, Dan McCarthy said: "During a chimney fire, extremely high temperatures are generated, which can cause both the chimney lining and nearby combustibles to ignite.

"This can cause the chimney to collapse."

He added: "Chimney fires also produce a lot of toxic gas, which can pose serious health risks.

"It can be very difficult to extinguish a chimney fire, and if the fire breaches the chimney structure, it is likely to spread to the walls and roof of a property."

In order to prevent such incidents especially during the winter season, Mr McCarthy provides six essential tips.

These include having chimneys inspected and cleaned annually by a professional, installing a chimney cap and screen, checking smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, clearing the area around the fireplace, and using proper, dried firewood.