When it comes to damage from Southcentral Alaska's Nov. 30 earthquake, one place you might want to take a closer look is at your chimney.

Anchorage Fire Department Chief Jodie Hettrick said there have been several house fires since the 7.0 quake, some of them related to chimneys. The department recommends getting a chimney inspection for anyone who has concerns.

Keith Periman owns The Chimney Doctor, a chimney inspection and cleaning service. Periman has been extremely busy since the earthquake inspecting for damage. Some of it, like fallen masonry, is obvious.

Periman says it's the damage you can't see, however, that can be just as concerning.

"Most of it's hidden, you just don't see it unless you really investigate it," he said.

The concern, according to Periman and the fire department, is that pipes that make up the chimney flue may have been dislodged and separated during the earthquake. That could allow a space where a fire could spread.

"It doesn't even have to be a chimney fire," Periman said. "It could be a spark going up through that opening where the pipe has separated into an attic space, and creates a fire."

An inspection will also reveal whether a chimney is dirty, which constitutes another fire hazard. AFD recommends annual cleanings for people who use their fireplaces or woodstoves regularly. Periman said every two or three years might be sufficient for people who use their fireplaces less frequently.

Calls Tuesday to several Anchorage chimney-service companies found chimney inspections running around $95. The cost for an inspection and cleaning averaged $150.

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