Attempts to thaw frozen pipes cause 2 Hamilton house fires

A misguided attempt to thaw frozen pipes led to two house fires in Hamilton. City officials say they got about two dozen calls for frozen pipes over the weekend.

Two fires reported as Hamilton dealt with frigid temperatures this weekend

A cold weekend led to more than 20 calls of frozen pipes, and at least two fires caused by people trying to thaw theirs. (Darren Bernhardt/CBC)

A misguided attempt to thaw frozen pipes led to two house fires in Hamilton this weekend. 

City officials say they got about two dozen calls for frozen pipes, but in two cases residents had decided to take matters into their own hands and warmed things up too much.

Sunday afternoon, fire crews arrived at a house on Holton Street South to find heavy black smoke coming from the basement at around 2:30 p.m. All of the house's occupants were outside and no one was injured.

A resident of the home had been using a propane torch to thaw frozen water pipes and the house caught fire, leaving about $75,000 in damage to the basement and first floor, said Hamilton Fire spokesman Claudio Mostacci. 

Later that night, around 1:30 a.m., crews were dispatched to a townhouse on Magnolia Drive. They found a fire burning in the garage attached to the end unit of a townhouse complex. A resident there had been using two electric space heaters to thaw frozen pipes in the garage, Mostacci said.

Damage is estimated at $95,000 in that fire and no one was injured.

None of the frozen pipes in homes seemed to be caused by underground cold or frost, said city spokeswoman Kelly Anderson. Instead, the homes with frozen pipes had unheated or uninsulated walls, she said.

City crews also responded to three major water main breaks this weekend: Locke Street, Barton Street and Main Street East.

Locke Street and Barton Street have reopened, but Main Street between Beland and Delana avenues is closed until at least 4 p.m. Monday. 


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