Outdoorsmen, Boy Scouts, and Native Americans have been building these fires all
along; they are called top down fires. The way you may have been taught is the
log cabin method with the kindling under the grate with some newspaper and the
bigger logs on the grate. You will have to think of building fires a new way, but a
way that can be more satisfying because there is less loading and more

First remove the grate, careful it will be dirty. Place the largest pieces of wood on
the firebox floor facing front to back. Most fireplaces are only 20 inches deep so
you will have to cut your wood accordingly. Once the bottom row is complete
place 4 more rows on top this time using smaller diameter pieces. The goal is to
reach about 1/2 the height of the firebox. Now it is time for the kindling or the
smallest pieces of wood (this may call for sticks from the yard or carefully splitting
some of the larger pieces into smaller ones). The smallest pieces should be on
top and the largest on the bottom. Do not build the wood any higher than the
fireplace opening. On the top place a few pieces of newspaper or a commercial
fire starter. The smallest pieces of wood just below the newspaper or the fire
starter should be small enough to catch fire.

Priming the flue or reversing the downdraft associated with some fireplaces may
be necessary to start the flow of air up the flue. Do this by cracking a door or
window in the same room as the fireplace and maybe even holding a rolled up
newspaper section lit at the end up towards the damper. The top down method
of building a fire will start out slowly but with a little practice, will be a long
burning and less labor intensive fire. Because the wood is laid with the ends front
to back, you should not have any logs rolling off onto the outer hearth. Now close
or place the screen in front sit back and enjoy, but remember, never leave a fire
unattended, always have a fire extinguisher with in reach of the fireplace, keep
the outer hearth clear of any combustible material and all furniture and
furnishings at least 36 inches away from the fireplace opening.

Winston's Chimney Service
11301 Industrial Road
Manassas, VA 20109