Pipe Thawing Attempt Leads to N.H. House Fire

WEST LEBANON, N.H. --

A West Lebanon apartment house sustained major damage Monday when a fire started after a homeowner tried to thaw frozen pipes, Lebanon fire officials said.

Fire officials said a basement fire was reported at 13 Seminary Hill Road at 8:37 a.m. Heavy smoke was showing when firefighters arrived, and flames could be seen on the first floor of the building.

Because of the intense cold, with temperatures at minus 20 degrees, a second alarm was struck, fire officials said. Firefighters were unable to stop the fire from spreading to the rear of the structure, and because of collapsing ceilings and roofs, firefighters had to battle the fire from outside the building.

The 11-apartment building sustained major fire damage to four units and moderate fire damage to two other units, fire officials said. The rest of the building sustained water and smoke damage.

Chief Chris Cristopoulos said the fire began when a homeowner used a torch to thaw frozen pipes in the basement. Flames spread through the balloon-frame construction to the upper floors of the building.

No one was injured, but several pets are unaccounted for.

The fire was brought under control shortly after 11 a.m.

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