EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Latest News

January 5, 2014

Landlord using blow torch to thaw water pipes starts house fire

DERRY — Battalion Chief Jack Webb said he and others at the Derry Fire Department were watching a television program yesterday morning that warned viewers about the danger of using blow torches to thaw frozen water pipes.

“We were actually joking about it before the call came in,” Webb said in an interview last night.

“It's just something you don't do. Don't ever do it,” he said.

But when firefighters responded to the call about a fire at 5 Mt. Pleasant St., they quickly learned that the blaze was ignited by the landlord attempting to thaw frozen pipes using a propane torch.

Clement Laplante, of 9 Windham Road, Derry, had picked the dangerously wrong way to get the water running in the two-family, century-old home — and it's going to cost him, according to Webb, who estimated damage to the building at about $20,000.

Fire crews were able to quickly extinguish the fire after knocking down several exterior and interior walls to keep it from spreading. A team from the American Red Cross helped relocate the five adults who were displaced. With the piping and electrical system damaged, Webb said, the building is uninhabitable until repairs are made.

Emergency crews treated a woman with a history of respiratory problems and transported her to Parkland Medical Center.

“We also found numerous electrical and fire code violations as well,” Webb said.

“The most serious fire code violations we found were no operating smoke and no operating carbon monoxide detectors in either of the two rental units,” he said.

No formal action has been taken against the landlord, as the Derry Code Enforcement and Derry Fire Prevention Bureau continued to investigate the fire last night.

Upon arrival, crews observed moderate smoke pushing from the front of the house, from the rear apartment and from the eaves, according to Webb.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Latest News

AP Video
Joy Fills Streets of Cleveland As LeBron Returns Proposed Bill to Regulate NY Costumed Characters WH: LeBron's Move a 'Powerful Statement' Ana Ortiz on 'Devious Maids' Finale CDC Addresses Lab Safety Problems Texas Shooting Suspect Collapses in Court Death Toll Tops 100 As Israel Offense Continues LeBron James Says He's Returning to Cavaliers Man Flees Police in World Cup Scalping Scheme Robot Writes Jewish Torah Scroll Raw: Israel, Gaza Exchange Rocket Fire More Immigrants Detained Along Rio Grande World Cup Final Pits Argentina Against Germany Police: Prostitute Linked to 2nd Death Thousands Attend NYC Firefighter's Funeral Art of Haitian Machete Fighting Revived Raw: Australia Hosts Annual Beer Can Regatta Mass. Mayor: Families Lost Everything in Fire Fans Dying to Be Near Jazz Greats Robots Gearing Up for Their Own 'World Cup'
Photos of the Week