Gloucestershire County Council is urging residents to keep warm but stay safe.

With the wintry weather continuing over the next few days, chimney fires are on the increase in the county.

Gloucestershire’s deputy chief fire officer, Geoff Sallis, does not want a repeat of the chimney fires that have already happened in the last week.

He said: “With the recent cold spell of weather, we have been called out to deal with 15 chimney fires in just the last week.

“While we always see an increase in chimney fires at this time of year, getting chimneys and flues professionally swept and burning seasoned wood can cut down on the risk.

“A smoke filled room can ruin everyone’s day and force residents out of their house into the cold when they want to be sitting in front of a nice warm fire.”

Residents can help to avoid this by following a few simple rules.

* Do not light fires using flammable liquids such as petrol or paraffin

* Use the recommended fuel for the fire or wood burner; not cardboard or wrapping paper

* Do not overload the fire with fuel * Use a fireguard to prevent embers setting light to furnishings

* Make sure that there is sufficient ventilation

* Ensure that the fire is completely out before going to bed or out for the day

* Fit a smoke alarm

Cllr Will Windsor-Clive, cabinet member for community safety, said: “Our Fire and Rescue Service does a good job all year round but too often they are occupied dealing with chimney fires that could have been avoided through proper maintenance.

“Please help them to be there for you when you really need them by having your chimney swept.”