A clean chimney will keep Santa happy, and better yet, it could also keep your house safe.

That's the message from West Kelowna Fire and Rescue after firefighters had to put out two chimney fires in the city this week.

"We're seeing an uptick in those types of events, and given the time of year, it's to be expected," West Kelowna fire chief Jason Brolund told Radio West's Adrian Nieoczym.

"Most chimney fires we see happen because the chimney has not been properly maintained. People are either burning wet wood or too much wood."

He says those behaviours can lead to a buildup of creosote, a black carbon material that can restrict the flow of smoke out of the chimney and even catch fire itself.

"That's why with a chimney fire we'll see flames shooting right out the top of the chimney."

The damage in the two West Kelowna fires was fairly minimal, Brolund said, although it could have been worse.

If a chimney fire burns for too long, the chimney can crack and break, and then the fire can spread to other parts of the home.

Brolund says to avoid chimney fires, use only dry, well-seasoned wood in a fireplace, and use small amounts. He also advises homeowners to have their chimneys inspected and serviced by a professional as needed, preferably at the beginning of the burning season.

With files from Adrian Nieoczym and CBC Radio One's Radio West