Fire Starts At East Lake House After Man Tries To Thaw Pipes With Blow Torch

Wednesday, January 8, 2014
Firefighters had to cut a fairly large hole in the exterior wall to get to the flames started by the flow torch.
Firefighters had to cut a fairly large hole in the exterior wall to get to the flames started by the flow torch.
- photo by Bruce Garner

The extreme cold temperatures have caused many pipes in the area to freeze, including a pipe in a house at 3120 12th Ave. in East Lake. In an effort to thaw the pipe, the resident tried to use a blow torch. Unfortunately, the torch ignited wood adjacent to the pipe and, before he could do anything, flames erupted in an exterior wall. 

Three officers with the Chattanooga Police Department, including Terry Barnes, Todd Clay and Jeff Lancaster, were the first to arrive on the scene. They tried to use portable fire extinguishers to get the fire out, but they could not get to the flames inside the wall. 

The Chattanooga Fire Department was dispatched to the house at 2:39 p.m. and responded with several fire companies. To get to the fire in the wall, Captain Mark Shook with Quint 1 said the firefighters had to use chainsaws and other equipment. The fire was extinguished in minutes, but it took much longer to make sure the fire was completely out. Most of the house was spared any fire damage. The dollar loss was estimated at $5,000. 

Fire officials said, "There are different methods for thawing frozen pipes, but using a blow torch – or any open flame -- is not recommended. If in doubt about your ability to safely thaw frozen pipes, the fire department recommends that you call a licensed plumber."

After putting out the hot spots, firefighters board up the hole with boards provided by the resident
After putting out the hot spots, firefighters board up the hole with boards provided by the resident
- Photo2 by Bruce Garner

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