ALBANY, N.Y. -- According to officials, the fast moving fire that consumed three homes Friday was caused by someone leaving a heater that was trying to thaw frozen pipes unattended.
The Albany Fire Department spent several hours in the blistering cold last week knocking down a two alarm blaze that authorities say began at 159 Dove St.
"Our determination was that the kerosene heater was left unattended at 159 in the basement. That's where the fire or origin, we determined, started," said Chief Robert Forezzi.
One of the fire victims we spoke to said he was thawing frozen pipes in the basement at the time. Thawing pipes or "sweating" is something authorities say should be left to professionals.
Todd Mischitelli, who works for Family Danz Heating and Cooling, is very busy this time of year. He explains that any interior pipe can freeze when the temperature falls below 32 degrees.
"When we start getting sub-zero temperatures that's when some of that cold weather outside permeates the foundation and gets into the pipes. And if you have pipes in questionable areas susceptible to colder temperatures, that's when you're going to see a freeze up," said Mischitelli.
Metal transfers heat, and Mischitelli says you can be thawing pipes in the basement and the heat can be conducted along that metal.
"That heat could transfer to another area which may have paper insulation or wood leaning next to it and it could cause a fire," said Mischitelli.
To keep pipes from freezing, experts suggest inexpensive insulation wrapping, increasing the temperature in your home, installing heat generating appliances like a clothes dryer in the basement and leaving the tap open on the faucet.
If you find yourself with frozen pipes, call a professional to do the job. The cost could run a couple hundred dollars and prevent a disaster like this from happening.