Propane pipe thawer sets Indian Hills home on fire
December 18, 2006
Heat from a propane torch ignited insulation foam and resulted in the destruction of a home at 3473 Tourmaline in Indian Hills on Monday afternoon.
The home at 3473 Tourmaline Drive started after 2 p.m. Monday when Charles M. Voight Jr. was thawing frozen pipes with a propane torch and singed his hair.
The home was unoccupied at the time and there were no injuries.
“Mom’s taking care of the trailer and called this morning and said the pipes were probably frozen,” said Voight. “The heat got trapped underneath. I didn’t see anything burning but all of the sudden it just went up.”
Capt. Terry Taylor of East Fork Fire & Paramedic Districts said the torch was the source of ignition for the manufacturer-installed foam rubber insulation. This fire illustrates a fire safety message.
“Using a propane torch to thaw pipes is very dangerous,” Taylor said. “There was foam insulation underneath the mobile home. The torch heated the foam and it flashed around his (Voight’s) head.”
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The previous owner of the trailer was Voight’s grandfather, Charles Campbell, who died Oct. 6. The home was being looked after by his survivors, Beverly Voight of Indian Hills, and her family.
Campbell, a retired dispatcher for Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, was bedridden for 10 years. He and his family lived in Indian Hills since 1965.
“Dad was wheelchair bound when he lived in the house,” said Beverly Voight. “The only way he could have stayed at home was because he had the same neighbors for 40 years and me down the street.”
Destroyed in the fire were Campbell’s belongings, family photographs and treasures. Beverly Voight would check on the house a few times a week to make sure things were secure. The family was waiting until after the first of the year to go through Campbell’s belongings.
“It was a matter of getting things done. We just got the death certificate two weeks ago,” she said. “Some of Grandma’s stuff was in there too.
“Dad would have said, ‘You should have listened to me and taken care of things sooner.’ But we’re still here and that’s what Dad would think was the most important.”
Responding to the fire were East Fork Fire & Paramedic Districts, Carson City Fire Department Engine 3, Johnson Lane and Jacks Valley volunteer fire departments.
To avoid frozen pipes:
n Warm air on plastic pipes is the best way to avoid frozen pipes.
n Pay attention to plumbing installed on outside walls.
n Open cabinets during cold temperatures to keep interior water pipes warm.
n Use electric heat tape on pipes exposed to cold.
n If pipes are frozen and thawing, make sure they don’t split and flood.
n Call a plumber when all options exhausted.