OKLAHOMA CITY - Oklahoma City fire crews say there have been 19 fire deaths so far this year.

As we get closer to winter weather, fire officials are reminding people to be safe when it comes to using their fireplace.

“When fireplaces burn, it produces something called creosote that builds up on the inside of the flume. And that is a waxy tar-y substance that is very flammable,” Battalion Chief Benny Fulkerson for the Oklahoma City Fire Department, said.

Oklahoma City Fire has advised the following steps:

  • Fireplaces should be inspected and/or cleaned each year by a qualified professional.
  • Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room.
  • Keep things that can burn at least three feet away from your fireplace

When you're dealing with the ashes, they recommend making sure they are cool before putting them in a metal container.

“They're dangerous to some extent. But they're also safe if you do things wisely,” Battalion Chief Fulkerson said.

Another great reminder is to keep an eye on any space heaters. Plug them directly into a wall outlet, not an extension cord. That can create an overheat situation.

But above all else, Battalion Chief Fulkerson said, “You have to have working smoke alarms. You may have done everything correctly, but for whatever reason you'll have a fire. You need that early warning.”

If you would like more information regarding fire safety tips, click here.