Bursting Pipes and Fires in Cold Massachusetts

With the state mostly dug out from the season’s first big snowstorm, Massachusetts is now confronting widespread damage caused by bitingly cold temperatures, including a rash of burst pipes, water main breaks, and house fires that have displaced at least 115 residents, reports The Boston Globe.

Officials also blamed the weather for a spike in house fires. Red Cross spokeswoman Kat Powers said at least 115 people have been displaced by house fires since New Year’s Eve.

Officials said many of the fires were caused when cold residents tried to heat their homes with ovens or space heaters left too close to combustible material.

A fire in Quincy that caused extensive damage to a single-family home and sent several residents to the hospital was caused by a vintage space heater being operated inside a three-season porch, said State Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan.

“We’ve had an increasing number of fires because of the cold weather,” said Coan. “Most are related to heating situations.”

Coan said fires in Ashfield, Conway, Oakham had badly damaged three homes and injured at least one resident. The cold weather and lack of a municipal water supply made fighting those blazes incredibly difficult, he said. Ice can cause falls and cause ladders to become stuck or encased in ice.

“Firefighting is a dangerous enough job in the best of weather, but it’s an extremely difficult job in bad weather,” Coan said.

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