Family tries thawing pipes, home goes up in flames

LOCKPORT, N.Y. (WIVB) – An attempt to thaw frozen pipes set off a family disaster in Lockport. It’s an unfortunate reminder of the dangers of propane heaters. Flames destroyed a mobile home where a couple lived for 37 years.

It was a sad scene as a lifetime of memories burned up in a fire that could have been prevented. But the good news is no one was hurt.

RELATED | There was more good news when firefighters found the homeowners’ hidden nest egg. Read that story here

Click here for exclusive pics of the fire from Stephen M Wallace
Click here for exclusive pics of the fire from Stephen M Wallace

All that’s left is a charred shell of a home in the Woodlands Mobile Home Park in Lockport where a couple spent nearly four decades raising a family and creating memories.

“My parents lived here for 37 years. She raised all four kids here. Her three grandkids. Everything. Everything is gone. Every memory is now burnt to nothing,” Tanya Poss said.

“It was a family of three and a couple pets. Everyone got out safely. Everyone’s accounted for. But as you can see the house is a total loss,” said Barry Kobrin, Assistant Chief of the Rapids Volunteer Fire Company.

And right in front of the now soggy, blackened mess is cause of the fire: a propane torpedo heater the homeowner was using to try and thaw his water pipes after they froze Monday morning.

Poss says her dad has Stage 4 cancer and had gone back inside for a moment when he lost feeling in his hands and feet. When he came back out, the heater had ignited the home – burning up a lifetime of keepsakes.

“Childhood pictures, my parents’ wedding pictures. Everything we’ve ever had. My mom’s angel collection, all gone,” Poss said.

Poss says her family is in shock and upset they had to wait for volunteer firefighters to arrive.

“Very upset. And it’s not even two minutes away from here. The fire department,” Poss said.

“Response time itself during the day, unfortunately is very hard,” Korbrin said.

The family is thankful everyone is alive. But immediately after seeing their home burned to the ground, it’s hard to look at the positives.

“I can’t even explain it. I think my dad’s more in shock than anything. Everything is going wrong left and right. I wish they could just get a break,” Poss said.

The Red Cross has reached out to the family to see what they need.

Assistant Fire Chief Barry Kobrin says again, this fire shows why people shouldn’t try to thaw their pipes on their own. If they have pipes that tend to freeze, he says they should let a faucet drip overnight.

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