Mobile home destroyed in fire sparked while owner tried to thaw frozen pipes

Investigators say a fire at a mobile home on Flamingo Drive started when the man who lives there was using a heat gun to thaw out his pipes. Crews from multiple departments worked to put out the fast-burning fire.

Mykayla Shank wasn’t home at the time, but she lives next door. She was stunned by the damage left behind when she got home Wednesday afternoon.

“Unbelievable how much damage there is,” Shank said. “Originally, I was just like, I hope he made it out okay.”

Hempfield Fire Chief Anthony Kovacic said the man who lives there is lucky to be alive.

“Very fortunate. Actually, he had to go past the fire in order to get out,” Kovacic said.

That man was also the one who called 911 to put out the fire. Chief Kovacic said it was started because the man was working to thaw his frozen pipes under the kitchen sink.

“He utilized a heat gun, and propped it up so it would continue to try to heat the environment. Kinda stepped away from it for a little bit, and heard a popping sound,” Kovacic said. “He went to investigate a little bit and saw the area was on fire.”

Kovacic said you can use a heat gun to thaw pipes, but he said you should never leave it unattended. Instead, it’s best to try to prevent the pipes from freezing in the first place. One option is opening cabinets around pipes to allow the heat of the house to keep them warm.

“Heat tape is another option you might have, letting the pipe drip so the water in motion doesn’t freeze, so there are some things that we can do,” Kovacic said.

Kovacic said if your pipes do freeze, it’s best to call a maintenance professional or a plumber to fix it.

Shank said she’s glad her neighbor is okay, even though his home is destroyed.

“I just think he’s the sweetest guy,” Shank said. “He’d walk over here and give my cats treats and food, pet them and learn their names. I’m just, I’m very thankful and grateful he was able to get out of there and call 911 and they were able to help him out even though he can’t live there anymore.”

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