A fireplace should be equipped with and irons or a grate to permit air flow from beneath the blaze, and a screen to contain sparks. Before starting a fire, clean out all but 2 inches of ashes and open the chimney damper. Use dry, well-seasoned wood; wet or freshly cut wood is difficult to ignite and is likely to smoke. Hardwood burns longer than softwood and deposits less creosote on the chimney.
Start by laying a large log across the back of the and irons and a slightly smaller log, preferably a slab placed flat side in, about 4 inches in front of it. Fill the trough between the two logs with a few sheets of tightly crumpled, black-and-white newspaper; on top place loosely crisscrossed pieces of dry kindling no more than 1 inch in diameter. Lay a small log on top.
Set a match to the newspaper. After the fire takes hold, see that the top log gradually settles between the lower
two. Keep pushing the front log toward the rear; replace it when space allows. Add another top log, if desired. When the back log burns through, lay a replacement on top and gradually work it into position by drawing the fragments of the original forward.
If the fire fails to ignite, or if it smokes, one or more of the following maybe the problem: (1) The chimney needs cleaning. (2) The room needs more air; open a window. (3) Air is flowing down the chimney (the flame of a lighted match held in the flue opening blows downward). Turn off any exhaust fans. Start an upward draft of air by holding a burning newspaper beneath the flue opening. (4) There are problems with the fireplace structure.