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Edgewood townhouse fire Sunday blamed on attempt to thaw frozen pipe

Fire investigators say an attempt to thaw a frozen pipe was the likely cause of a fire that damaged an Edgewood townhouse Sunday afternoon.
Fire investigators say an attempt to thaw a frozen pipe was the likely cause of a fire that damaged an Edgewood townhouse Sunday afternoon. (Courtesy Office of the State Fire Marshal)

Fire investigators say an attempt to thaw a frozen pipe was the likely cause of a fire that damaged an Edgewood townhouse Sunday afternoon.

The fire in 2000 block of Rockwell Street in the Harford Commons community was reported shortly after 1 p.m. by a maintenance technician from Maryland Management Company, owner of the dwelling, according to a notice of investigation from the Office of the State Fire Marshal.

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The maintenance technician was using a heat gun as well as a hair dryer to thaw pipes in a bathroom when he observed smoke coming from the wall, according to the report. The fire extended upwards towards the attic.

“He attempted to extinguish the fire, but it was beyond his control; he called 911,” Senior Deputy State Fire Marshal Oliver Alkire said Tuesday.

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Alkire said fires have happened in other parts of the state in similar circumstances. He encouraged people to “contact a professional, someone that is licensed and bonded,” such as a plumber, to deal with frozen pipes.

The technician and the single-story townhouse’s two occupants, a woman and her 10-year-old daughter, safely evacuated.

The Joppa-Magnolia Fire Company arrived, as did units from the Aberdeen Proving Ground Fire Department and Abingdon Volunteer Fire Company, and about 25 firefighters were able to bring the fire under control in approximately five minutes, according to the Fire Marshal’s Office report.

No injuries were reported, and the occupants were relocated to another unit in the complex, according to the report.

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Investigators have ruled the fire accidental. Damage to the unit is estimated at $35,000; damage to contents is estimated at $10,000, according to the report.

A smoke alarm was present in the unit and properly activated, according to the report.

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