ANN ARBOR (WWJ/AP) – Authorities say a landlord trying to thaw frozen pipes with a welder started a fire at the home of two elderly Ann Arbor residents.

The incident happened Wednesday night at a two-family home in the 1000 block of Pontiac Trail, just north of US-23 in Ann Arbor.

Brent Robertson, who owns the property, told the Ann Arbor News that the pipes froze over late last week and he had been trying for days to restore water access. On Wednesday, he and two other people tried to thaw the frozen pipes with an ARC welder, but things didn’t go exactly as planned.

Battalion Chief Randy Menard said the welder apparently caused problems with the home’s electrical system, sparking a fire in the attic.

“I’m not sure of that process, exactly, but somehow the electrical system back fed through the ground system, caught some electrical wires going up into the second story, and caught the attic and some wood insulation on fire in the back of the house,” Menard told the Ann Arbor News.

One of two residents was home at the time and made it to safety, without injury. Robertson said the fire damaged most of the home’s second-floor and he estimates repairs will cost upwards of $50,000.

The American Red Cross is helping the displaced residents find a new place to live.

TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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