Q: What considerations should I take when converting a furnace closet into extra space in my kitchen?

I have an old furnace closet off my kitchen. The posterior of the fireplace/brick wall with a flue are at the back of this closet. I would like to open the kitchen and use that closet space. Can that posterior wall be closed in? Would fire/safety code prohibit building in front of it? The fireplace is used all winter for a wood stove, so the posterior brick wall of the closet is usually quite warm.

What alteration would be possible to open this closet and make use of the space to add to the size of my very small galley kitchen? Thanks for all input.

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