BY MARYALICE MELI MAMELI@NCNEWSONLINE.COM





An attempt to thaw frozen water pipes led to a fire in Ellwood City Monday that left six people homeless. Eighteen firefighters from the borough's department responded to 216 1/2 Second St., a building with four apartments. They arrived at 3:40 p.m. and had the fire under control within an hour, despite a temperature below 10 degrees. Damages are mainly to the building's exterior and are estimated at $10,000. Fire Chief Connie MacDonald said workers had hung a tarpaulin across a breezeway to contain the warmth from a torpedo heater being used to thaw the water pipes. MacDonald said the tarp may have contacted the heater and accidentally caught fire. The flames spread to a channel inside the wall dedicated to contain water and sewer pipes and electrical wiring between the first and second floors. The fire followed the channel upward creating a chimney effect and extensive damage to that area, he explained. The department notified the Red Cross, which offered shelter to tenants with no other temporary accommodations including Danielle and Samantha Biego, Shawn Sutch, David Kimmel and Trevor Blatchford. A sixth tenant was not named. Some of the tenants were at home at the time of the fire, but none was injured. Sean Hancock, the owner Gary Young's representative, was the only one injured. He suffered burns to his face but refused treatment. Gas and electric power have been shut off until repairs can be made. MacDonald said the fire was accidental.

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