Chimney maintenance and proper cleaning are key steps to keeping your family safe and warm as the temperatures drop. Neglected chimneys accumulate creosote, a combustible byproduct of charred wood, along their walls. Add to that a high internal flue temperature and you've got a potentially dangerous chimney fire on your hands. The best way to avoid a house fire caused by the fireplace or chimney is to hire a professional chimney sweep to inspect for cracks and loose bricks. They will also clean your chimney.