With temperatures dropping to below freezing this week, fire crews are offering advice on how to stay safe when starting a fire at home.

Using your fire place is a good way to heat the home and save money on energy bills, however, it is important to make sure that the fireplace and chimney are safe to use and not to stoke the flames too much.

The advice also comes just a few days after firefighters tackled a fire at a thatched house in Gillingham for over 19 hours after 12 crews were called to the property.

The fire was believed to have started due to a chimney fire.

A spokesperson for Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue said: "A clean chimney can help prevent fires and structural damage to your property.

"If you have an open fire or wood-burning stove, please follow these tips to reduce your risk of a chimney fire.

"Have your chimney swept - Don’t burn excessive amounts of paper or rubbish. - Don’t overload the fire with fuel. - Don’t use flammable liquids such as petrol or paraffin to light your fire."

For more advice and useful links, visit www.dwfire.org.uk/chimney-safety/