RED BLUFF, Calif. -

CAL FIRE and the Tehama County Fire Department are warning people to clean out your chimney and wood burning stove before the winter chill hits.

"Well, it is starting to get colder and people are already starting to use their chimneys and wood stoves,” says fire prevention specialist Kevin Colburn.

“We just recommend that before you use it for the first time of the year, you really should have it cleaned,” explains Colburn.

Fire crews are urging anyone with a fireplace, chimney or wood burning stove, to check for cracks and get out the cleaning brush.

Whether you pay a professional, or do the dirty work yourself, Colburn says it needs to be done now, in order to protect your entire home from potentially going up in flames.

“You need to get up there and actually clean the soot and the tar out of there because that can build up and it can cause a fire,” warns Colburn.

With such high risk of sparking a fire, five Tehama County year-round fire stations have provided free chimney cleaning brushes anyone can borrow.

Here’s a list of the participating Tehama County locations offering free brushes for loan:

Red Bluff Headquarters - 604 Antelope Blvd., 528-5160
Paynes Creek station - 29721 Hwy 36E, 597-2641
Los Molinos Station - 7390 Sherwood Blvd., 384-2345
Bowman Station - 18355 Bowman Rd., Cottonwood, 347-3473
Corning Fire Station - 988 Colusa St., 824-5546

Fire crews also warn those building a fire to never use flammable liquids or excessive amounts of paper to start a fire.

Also, never burn charcoal indoors, it gives off lethal amounts of carbon monoxide and can be deadly when inhaled.

For more fire safety tips, check the CAL FIRE website.