After extreme cold, fires, burst pipes and flooding keep emergency crews – and plumbers – busy

By JAMIE L. COSTA

Monitor staff

Published: 02-07-2023 7:08 PM

Freezing temperatures this past weekend lead to damaging fires and burst pipes across the state, leaving families displaced and homes destroyed as temperatures hovered in the negative and single digits until Sunday. 

As temperatures began to climb on Saturday afternoon, the Concord Fire Department received 24 calls throughout the city of burst pipes, flooding and sprinkler malfunctions, said Chief John Chisholm. No city buildings were impacted. 

“This is about what I would have expected,” he said. “We started seeing the calls after the strongest part of the cold was relieved as the pipes started to thaw.”

For plumbers in the area, the emergency calls came in at nearly eight times the volume. The majority were for mobile and manufactured homes. 

“Between the wind and the cold, it was just a brutal one for everybody,” said Ernest Mills, owner of P & M Plumbing in Concord. “I probably got over 200 calls between Saturday and Sunday and I’m still getting them today.”

Over the next week, Mills and his crew will be responding to burst pipes, broken sprinkler systems and indoor flooding in Concord and the surrounding areas, he said. 

Most homeowners that experienced frozen pipes were able to stay in their homes despite water damage to some areas of the property while others, like a family in Warner, weren’t as lucky. 

While trying to thaw their pipes with a blowtorch, homeowners on Poverty Plains Road caught their house on fire. The home was a total loss and the blaze reached a second alarm, bringing in additional support from the Capital Region area on Sunday afternoon as temperatures reached 40 degrees. By 1 p.m. the fire was under control. 

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No injuries were reported. 

Another fire in Northwood burned down a barn on Friday at 997 First New Hampshire Turnpike that left the family displaced from their home. 

“I would not recommend the use of a blowtorch to thaw pipes, or anything with an open flame,” Chief Chisholm said. “Before trying to thaw the pipes, make sure the water is shut off at the main valve before trying to thaw with a hair dryer or a heat gun.”

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