Fire destroys home in Valley

Landlord accidentally started blaze while thawing frozen pipes

Posted: Wednesday, December 05, 2007

A landlord thawing frozen pipes with a butane torch under a mobile home in the Mendenhall Valley started a blaze that destroyed the single-wide home Tuesday morning, Juneau fire officials said.

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The blaze started shortly before 10:30 a.m. at Lot 79 in Glacier View Trailer Court, where the landlord's torch ignited wood under the trailer, said Fire Marshal Rich Etheridge.

"He didn't have a fire extinguisher and found one too late," he said.

The fire entered the walls and climbed into the attic, destroying the home.

"It's a total loss," Etheridge said.

The trailer's single resident was warned and escaped injury. None of the 20 firefighters working the blaze was injured, officials said.

Capital City Fire and Rescue fights several "frozen pipe" fires each year.

"I'd like to remind folks to use caution when thawing pipes," Etheridge said. "Open torches are not recommended."

Linda Wahl, Red Cross Disaster Response specialist, said that even space heaters require a three-foot combustible free zone around them. She recommends calling a professional to thaw frozen pipes.

Wahl said the trailer's lone resident found temporary accommodations while looking for a new home and the Red Cross provided a debit card to cover food and clothing expenses during the interim.

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