House fire started by thawing pipes

A house fire Wednesday afternoon on West Avenue was started by someone using a blowtorch to try to thaw the pipes, according to the Buffalo Fire Commissioner.

High temperatures on Wednesday barely climbed into the teens, and with the wind chill, it felt below zero nearly all day. That’s not keeping Western New Yorkers from being out and about, but it is changing the way they dress.

Layers are the key. They’re making sure to bundle up more than normal, perhaps limiting time outside. Frostbite can set in in as little as five minutes in these temperatures. Early warning signs include pain, numbness, and skin turning white.

Mai-Ling Lai said, “Oh my God, I’m freezing! I am all layered up. I have leggings and socks and scarves and extra sweaters.”

Rob Stokes said, “They put those warnings out there for a reason. No exposed skin, stuff like that. So it’s definitely better to be layered up because you can always take it off.”

Though News 4 said this on-air on Tuesday, with Wednesday’s house fire, it bears repeating: Do not use torches to try to thaw out frozen pipes. If you have to do it yourself, it’s better to use a “soft” heat source, like a hair dryer.

The fire caused about $10,000 in damage. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review. Note: Comments containing links are not allowed.

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