The bitter cold weather is keeping volunteer firefighters busy today. Frozen and burst pipes led to “water flow” alarms at three different Route 58 stores and a deli on East Main Street, as well as at Little Flower school in Wading River — and a man attempting to thaw frozen pipes in his basement accidentally set the outside of his house on fire in Riverhead.

Frozen water pipes burst this morning at Aldi, Staples and Subway on Route 58 and at a deli at 999 East Main Street. A water pipe also broke at Little Flower in Wading River this morning.  A frozen water line burst again in the Staples shopping center this afternoon at 5:20. Immediately after that, another water flow alarm came in for the clubhouse at Sunken Ponds Estates on Middle Road.

A Doctors Path resident inadvertently set fire to his house while attempting to thaw frozen pipes in his basement, Riverhead Fire Department First Assistant Chief Kevin Brooks said.

At Aldi and Subway, the fire suppression system pipes — which feed sprinkler systems — froze and broke this morning. At Staples and at the deli at 999 East Main Street (formerly Kelli’s Deli), domestic water supply pipes‚ which supply an establishment’s sinks and toilets, did the same.

“The supply lines were all in the space above the ceilings,” Brooks said. “Those spaces typically are not very well-insulated to begin with, and with this cold, well, that’s what can happen.”

The broken supply line “caused a pretty big mess in Staples,” Brooks said.

The fire chief said “there could be a lot of broken pipes that people aren’t aware of yet” because water won’t begin to flow “until once they thaw out.” Then, Brooks said, “they’ll be flooding.”

The Little Flower break was the only one in the Wading River Fire District so far, said Wading River Chief Mark Donnelly.

Firefighters also answered several alarms for carbon monoxide emergencies. They all turned out to be false alarms, Brooks said. Carbon monoxide detectors, like smoke detectors, only have a certain life expectancy.

“They should all be replaced after five to seven years,” Brooks said. That’s true of battery-operated and hard-wired detectors, he added.

Photo caption: Riverhead firefighter works to put out fire at Doctors Path house this morning, where resident attempting to thaw frozen pipes inadvertently set fire to the rear of his home.  Photo: Peter Blasl

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Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.