Watsonville firefighters responded to the townhouse on Montebello Drive just after 3 p.m. to a report of a structure fire.
The blaze was contained within the wooden casing surrounding the metal flue, Division Chief Pablo Barreto said. But from the extent of the damage, it appeared the fire had been "burning for quite a while," possibly days. Barreto said the cause of the fire is under investigation, but it serves as a reminder of the need for having annual chimney checks by a licensed professional. Damage at the Montebello home was minimal, but if the blaze had flared up at night, when the family was asleep, the outcome could have been much different, he said.
Four engines and a ladder truck responded to the scene, representing Watsonville, Pajaro Valley, Aptos-La Selva and North Monterey County departments.