SAN ANGELO, Texas (KLST / KSAN) – With winter weather around the corner, house fire prevention should be a priority for homeowners.

The San Angelo Fire Department says it’s very important to get your fireplace cleaned by a professional every year depending on how much you use it and clean your fireplace box out about every week.

The department sees several house fires every year, but say many times it isn’t full fires that cause the initial trouble, rather smoke that isn’t able to escape the chimney due to buildup from soot, animals nesting, or equipment that isn’t working properly.

The San Angelo Fire Department’s Mason Matthews, says when there’s debris in the way, “smoke can’t exit properly, so it starts to come out of the fireplace and fills up the home which is not going to be the only risk, but also smoke is flammable so now that’s in the house and any type of ignition source can actually create a fire inside the structure.”

The San Angelo Fire Department share tips to further prevent house fires while using your fireplace saying, “it’s also important to keep any flammable objects or materials like couches and decorations five to six feet from your fireplace and burn old wood rather than fresh-cut wood.”