Effort to thaw pipes sparks Richmond house fire - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Effort to thaw pipes sparks Richmond house fire

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Vermonters in some parts of the state awoke to temperatures well below zero Tuesday. And when the thermometer reads negative 37 degrees, like it did at Tom Rogers' house in Stowe, staying warm and staying safe can sometimes be challenging.

One homeowner in Richmond was trying to protect his home from the cold Tuesday morning when disaster struck.

"Evidently, the homeowner was trying to thaw some pipes with a heater under the trailer. They froze up overnight," Richmond Fire Chief Thomas Levesque said.

Levesque says the owner was using a portable propane can, which sparked the blaze. Crews were on the scene quickly. They say flames were shooting from the mobile home on Summer Street when they arrived.

"I could see smoke coming through one window and starting to deteriorate the roof area. And then once it broke through the roof, oxygen got to the fire-- it just spread through the whole trailer," Levesque said.

The owner of the trailer was the only one home at the time. He escaped unharmed and officials say he was lucky. They say it's important that people are prepared before the cold weather strikes.

"In this cold weather, make sure you do things safely. Make sure your heating system's been tuned up, make sure you don't use any open flames to thaw pipes. Use a hairdryer or something like that," Levesque said.

The Red Cross is providing assistance to the family in Richmond.

Vermont State Police are also asking people to check in on their neighbors. They say they found an elderly woman in Georgia Monday night without any heat on in her home.

"It just comes back to looking out for your neighbors, especially those neighbors who may have needs requiring that they be checked on, especially those elderly neighbors that live alone," Vt. State Police Lt. John Flannigan said.

Some schools had to close Tuesday because their buses wouldn't start, just one more casualty of these cold winter days.

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