DEVON and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service have urged people to ensure their chimneys are safe and secure, especially when lighting up fires that haven't been used for a while.

The service said: “Open fires and wood burning stoves are growing in popularity as they not only warm up a home, but create a unique and relaxing ambience within any room. This is all the more reason to ensure they are safe and clean.

“Chimneys need to be dirt free to allow the free passage of dangerous combustion gasses, so regular cleaning will remove soot and creosote, and help prevent dangerous chimney fires.

“Make sure your chimney is swept regularly by a registered chimney sweep.”