EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

February 1, 2013

Heat gun used to de-ice freezer ignites garage fire

METHUEN — A heat gun being used to defrost a freezer caused a fire that destroyed a one-car, detached garage at 19 Lexington Ave. around 12:30 a.m. yesterday, according to fire officials.

Firefighters responding to a 911 call arrived to find flames rolling across the ceiling of the wood-frame, single-story structure, said Methuen Fire Capt. Michael Buote.

The engine company responding put the fire out in about a half hour, he said. There were no injuries and only minor damage to the about 12 feet from the garage.

The garage along with its contents were destroyed. “It’s a tear-down at this point,” Buote said.

Buote said the homeowner, David Grondine, reported he had been using a heat gun to defrost a freezer kept in the garage.

Grondine’s wife said yesterday they had thawed out the freezer earlier but that there were a few remnants of ice left and said her husband got the heat gun to finish the job.

Meanwhile, they were also cleaning up some puddles that had formed on the floor of the garage as a result of defrosting the freezer.

She said he “ran inside for five minutes” to get a few things for the chore, and when he came back flames were pouring out the garage.

She and her 7-year-old child evacuated the house and called 911.

In addition to the garage and its contents, a car parked just outside was heavily damaged.

Buote said it’s unclear exactly how the fire started, only that the heat gun was the source of ignition of something in the garage that led to the fire.

“He had the freezer door open, and put the heat gun on one of the freezer shelves,” Buote said. “He turned it on, went in the house, whether it was five or 10 minutes, he went inside for a period of time.”

While he was gone, the heat gun, which puts out a tremendous amount of heat, dried something out to its ignition point, which caught fire.

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