OKLAHOMA CITY - The Oklahoma City Fire Department hopes anyone planning to use their fireplace this winter will take the proper precautions. Twice in the last three days, crews have responded to fires involving fireplaces.

Chief Benny Fulkerson said both could have been prevented had there been cleaning and inspections prior to the incidents.

Chief Fulkerson said residents should have their fireplaces inspected and/or cleaned once a year by a qualified professional. Store-bought creosote busting logs should not be used as a standalone remedy, he added.

Firefighters also recommend getting a sturdy screen and spark arrestor, and making sure dampers are completely open when lighting or using the units. It’s also important to keep a three-feet buffer zone from any combustibles or children near fireplaces, space heaters or any heating devices, firefighters said.

And all fires should be extinguished completely before leaving the home or going to bed.