Now Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service has urged people to get chimneys and flues swept before the winter.
Crews were called to the Wilderhope Manor Youth Hostel, in Longville in the Dale, south Shropshire, last night to find that debris from a bird's nest had blocked the boiler flue.
Firefighters from Church Stretton and Much Wenlock were called out after smoke filled a room at the hostel.
They dealt with the problem within half an hour, using breathing apparatus to go into the smoke-logged room, then chimney rods and a hose as well as a thermal imaging camera to check that there was no fire.
Operations officers Jim Barker, from Much Wenlock station, said the flue had been blocked by bird's nest debris despite having a bird guard fitted.
"Please ensure you have your chimney/flue swept and checked every year prior to using your boiler or fire," he said.