FIREFIGHTERS have warned homeowners to get their chimneys swept before using their fireplaces over the winter.

A crew from St Neots was called to Great North Road in Eaton Socon at 4pm yesterday (Tuesday) after a chimney caught fire.

Firefighters used chimney rods to extinguish it, before checking for hot spots and returning to their station by 5.15pm.

A crew from St Neots returned later to reinspect the incident. The cause of the fire was accidental.

Paul Oliver, crew commander at St Neots, said: "The chimney was badly damaged by the fire, which was caused by a build-up of soot and debris in the chimney.

"This should be a reminder for others who are thinking of using their chimneys at this time of year to make sure it has been swept and inspected recently.

"Soot can build up very easily, but even if the chimney hasn't been used all summer there could be other debris such as bird nests which can start a fire.

"Don't wait until it's too late to discover that your chimney needs sweeping."

INFORMATION: Information on chimney fire safety is available from the Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service website at www.cambsfire.gov.uk