When it comes to looking after our properties, chimneys can often be left at the bottom of the list. Most residential and commercial property owners tend to make sure their building is structurally sound, well-insulated, and up to date before taking a close look at their chimney.
However, this could be short-sighted as not maintaining chimneys properly might put the rest of the structure at risk, which could end up being incredibly costly and potentially dangerous.
Residents and recent visitors to Morecambe know all about this, after a town centre road in the north-west area was shut off after a chimney collapsed last week.
Euston Grove was cornered off on Sunday September 29th for “public safety” to protect locals, while residents were evacuated from their homes.
It is believed the chimney fell at around 03:30, according to Lancaster Guardian, leading to 11 people, a dog, cat, and rabbit to be removed from their homes to keep them safe.
Lancaster City Council believed the evacuation was necessary as the chimney could collapse even further, causing more destruction and a greater level of danger to nearby households.
Firefighters also came to the scene, as they had to switch off gas and electricity safely, departing just after 0500 that morning.
Police kept Euston Grove closed for 72 hours to ensure it was completely safe for residents, as well as passersby, to return.
This comes after a chimney collapsed in Liverpool during the summer, leaving neighbours concerned about the structural integrity of their homes.
Liverpool Echo reported how a chimney broke down on Woodcroft Road in Wavertree on June 20th.
Natasha Chapman, 31, told the newspaper: “I thought the noise of the chimney stack collapsing was thunder at first or someone was fly-tipping into an empty skip.”
She said the bedroom moved, while another neighbour sought protection by getting underneath the bed.
Mersey Fire and Rescue Service responded to emergency calls, and blocked an area of the street off.
A spokesperson for the organisation said: “We were called to a two storey, mid-terrace house which was unoccupied and under refurbishment.
“We cordoned off the area and stood by to wait for a structural engineer to arrive.
“We advised residents to stay out of the rear yard and Liverpool City Council were informed.”
The residents blame the large amount of building work taking place on the street for the incident, with many property owners selling their homes to developers who have then turned the houses into student accommodation.
As a result, residents have launched a petition to have Article 4 applied to the street, so developers have to apply for planning permission before they can begin building work. This would ensure the properties are strong enough to withstand refurbishment, and could mean chimneystack collapses can be avoided in the future if they are found to be poorly maintained and structurally weak.
Liverpool City Council’s spokesperson stated the contractor working on the property told the local authority someone had stolen lead flashing and, therefore, dislodged the chimneystack.
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