Man attempts to thaw frozen pipes, starts house fire

By Patty Hastings, Columbian breaking news reporter

Published:

 
photoClark County Fire & Rescue firefighters douse a blaze started by a heat lamp used to thaw frozen pipes.

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Location of house

Firefighters doused a Woodland house fire that was ignited Monday afternoon by a heat lamp being used to thaw frozen pipes.

The fire was reported at 2:57 p.m. at a single-story house, 155 S. Pekin Road, near Horseshoe Lake. The homeowner put a heat lamp near the side of the house, and it ignited the siding, said Clark County Fire & Rescue Battalion Chief Tim Dawdy.

The crew quickly extinguished the blaze, which damaged the outside of the house, along with the laundry room, Dawdy said. He estimated the damage at $5,000. “When pipes are frozen, be very, very cautious when trying to thaw those pipes, especially when using exterior heat sources,” he said.

This type of fire is not uncommon, he said, reminding people to never leave heat sources unattended.

Clark County Fire & Rescue has recently responded to multiple calls of burst pipes in Clark County, most of them at commercial buildings that are out of business and have the heat turned off. The cost of water damage caused by flooding outweighs the cost of heating the building, Dawdy said.

Tips to prevent freezing pipes

The City of Vancouver’s water quality division offers these tips to prevent outdoor plumbing from freezing:

  • Remove garden hoses and cover outside faucets.
  • Make sure all pipes exposed to the elements are insulated. Pipe insulation can be found at hardware stores.
  • Make sure the water shut-off valve is working properly, in case of emergency.