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HAVERHILL (CBS) – Don’t use an open flame to thaw pipes.

That’s the warning from fire officials after a house fire in Haverhill was started by a blow torch.

The fire erupted in a triple decker on South Elm Street around 4:45 p.m. Friday.

haverhill fire dangers pkg 6p Haverhill Fire Started By Blow Torch

(WBZ-TV)

Neighbors were confused as they watched police and fire pulled up.

They could smell the fire, but couldn’t see it.

“A bunch of people came out of the house and started congregating… there wasn’t any visible fire or smoke,” said Tito Santos-Silva.

Firefighters were able to keep the fire contained to the basement. The deputy fire chief says a torch is to blame, because someone was trying to thaw a frozen pipe.

“That’s a little crazy. I mean, it’s been really cold here .. the streets have been really icy, it’s really icy but we were wondering what was going on,” Santos-Silva said.

Boston Fire Commisioner Joseph Finn urged residents not to use any open flames to thaw pipes.

fire official Haverhill Fire Started By Blow Torch

Boston Fire Commisioner Joseph Finn urged residents not to use any open flames to thaw pipes. (WBZ-TV)

“Please, if you have frozen pipes, not to try to thaw them with a torch. Call a professional, a plummer, and if you are to attempt to thaw a frozen pipe underneath your sink or something… use a hair dryer,” Finn said.

Finn said open flames cause “tremendous loss of life and property throughout the year with people using torches that are inexperienced.”

He had the same warning for space heaters, stoves, and even candles, asking people to use extreme caution with these freezing temperatures.

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