Firefighters in Houston, Texas pulled away part of the masonry from a house this weekend while fighting a purported chimney fire. Footage of the action, which likely saved the residence from more extensive damage, was captured by ABC 13 Eyewitness News.

After the chimney is toppled at the roof-line, you can see smoke pouring from the flue as the chimney sits in the yard. At the Chimney Safety Institute of America, we’ve unfortunately witnessed too many chimney fires over the years. They look scary [see video], either from a high viewpoint or a bottom one.

There are a variety of ways to combat such a fire, and we haven’t seen an approach like this very often.

It was not uncommon for early American chimneys.

When colonists settled what is known as America in the 17th century, chimneys were made of brick. But most were comprised of sticks and mud – aka wattle and daub. As one might guess, those wattle and daub caught on fire. In order to keep the entire structure from burning, the chimneys were often “married” to the house — propped up so that should they catch on fire, they could be separated. The prop (a support post) could be kicked out and the chimney would fall away from the house.


Image courtesy of Jim Bostaph, Black Goose Chimney, Newport News, Virginia.

These days, chimneys are not allowed to be built of sticks and wood. And we don’t need them to, because we have CSIA Certified Chimney Sweeps who can come to your home and inspect your chimney, examining them inside and out, reducing your risk of an unwanted chimney fire.

They are trained to look for issues that could to fires.