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Love County firefighters respond to fire caused by weather-related heating mishap

Sierra Rains
The Daily Ardmoreite
A water hose is extended from a Marietta fire truck Monday afternoon to help extinguish a fire in a homeowner's insulation. The fire was reportedly caused by the homeowner trying to dethaw their pipes.

Love County firefighters responded to a weather-related heating mishap Monday afternoon where a Marietta homeowner’s insulation caught on fire. 

Marietta Fire Chief Dusty Michael said firefighters were called to the residence located off of Loves Valley Road at around 2 p.m. The homeowner had reportedly been attempting to thaw out their frozen pipes with a propane heater, but the flames became too hot and caught the insulation behind a brick wall on fire. 

“They were heating it from the outside where the pipes come in to the house, but they were using a propane heater and it ignited the wood framing that’s in-between the bricks and the sheet rock,” Michael said. “There’s an insulation board in there.”

Michael said there were no large, visible flames when firefighters arrived. The main obstacle for firefighters was accessing the fire. Firefighters were reportedly forced to remove the wall behind a set of kitchen cabinets. 

“It wasn’t bad, it was just hidden,” Michael said. “It was in-between the bricks and the interior walls so we ended up having to tear out the cabinets on the inside to get access to it.”

Michael said the main damage to the home was from tearing the wall out and the fire damage was kept to a minimum. 

Marietta Fire Chief Dusty Michael uses a water hose to extinguish flames inside the walls of a local home Monday afternoon.

Many individuals currently have frozen pipes due to an extended period of below-freezing temperatures and winter weather— something the southern Oklahoma area does not see too often. 

Firefighters are urging everyone to stay safe while thawing pipes and, if possible, encourage individuals to wait for temperatures to rise again, or to call a plumbing service. 

“We don’t have this kind of weather so just if you’re going to do it pay attention, try not to use open flames,” Michael said. “Thermal heaters would be advisable compared to an open flame.”

In the incident on Monday, Michael said the heater used did have a casing around it, but the extreme heat became an issue. “It wasn’t actually just the flame hitting it as much as the temperature that it was putting off, it ignited the wood finally,” Michael said. 

House fires typically increase in the winter months due to heating equipment, but Michael said the Marietta area has had few other problems this year. Individuals are encouraged to continue taking precautions when using items like space heaters in order to keep their homes safe. 

Space heaters become dangerous when used improperly. Individuals should remember to plug space heaters directly into the wall, rather than using extension cords, and keep a three foot distance around the device. 

“Knock on wood, we have not,” Michael said when asked if the department had seen very many weather-related fires. “We’ve had a few wrecks but not as many as we thought we were going to, so maybe everybody is heeding the warnings and staying home hopefully.”