Firefighters hampered by frozen hydrants in battling W. Bridgewater blaze

Jan 23, 2014 --Somerville, MA - Firefighter checks for hotspots after a fire broke out in a Somerville multifamily home on Mt. Vernon St., no injuries, cause unknown. (globe staff photo; Joanne Rathe reporter: section:met topic: STAND ALONE )
A firefighter checked for hot spots at the fire on Mount Vernon Street in Somerville. The state fire marshal’s office said the fire was started by people thawing frozen pipes with a propane torch.
Joanne Rathe/The Boston Globe

A couple and their dog were rescued after their West Bridgewater home caught fire early today in a blaze that took four hours to extinguish as firefighters struggled with multiple frozen fire hydrants, officials said.

The West Bridgewater Fire Department received a call at 1:15 a.m. from the neighbors of the 2½-story home on Ash Street.

“The first apparatus that arrived on scene reported that the structure was heavily involved in fire, but they found that the first fire hydrant they went to was frozen, and the next, and the next,” said Fire Chief Leonard Hunt. “We ended up laying about 3,000 feet of hose to get to the closest working hydrant.”

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West Bridgewater firefighters, along with firefighters from Bridgewater, East Bridgewater, Brockton, Easton, and Raynham, battled the blaze, Hunt said.

“Unfortunately, the house was a total loss,” Hunt said. “But the good news is that the man and wife and their dog weren’t hurt.”

The American Red Cross provided lodging for the couple and their dog, Hunt said.

The cold weather played a role in starting both the West Bridgewater fire and another fire today in Somerville, authorities said.

The fire on Ash Street was, in a strange coincidence, caused by the improper disposal of woodstove ashes, authorities said. The ashes had been placed in a bag on the front steps, said State Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan’s office.

Another blaze this morning on Mount Vernon Street in Somerville was started by people thawing frozen pipes with a propane torch, the office said, emphasizing that people should never use an open flame to thaw pipes.