The Berkshire Eagle  reports four people and several pets were displaced Friday night when a North Street man tried to thaw frozen pipes with a torch and set his house on fire.

Firefighters, rescue personnel and police responded to the single-family residence at 129 North St. about 11 p.m. to find that the family already had evacuated, according to Fire Chief Stephen Meranti.

Firefighters descended on the basement, which was filled with heavy smoke, and worked to extinguish the fire and rescue two dogs, according to Meranti.

At the scene, paramedics from Northern Berkshire EMS treated the owner, Edward Burdick, whose hair had been singed after using the blowtorch, Meranti said.

Burdick's wife and two adult children were uninjured, and a cat was unaccounted for but was believed to have escaped, Meranti said.

The building inspector determined that the wiring in the basement was extensively damaged and condemned the building until repairs are made. The house, built in 1870, most recently was assessed at $71,600, according to city records.

David Anderson, the fire department's chaplain and liaison to the American Red Cross, worked with the family to secure a hotel room for the night. On Saturday, the family was working with the Red Cross to find temporary housing, Meranti said.

Meranti said the fire exemplified the dangers of using open flames to thaw frozen pipes and said that the department has urged homeowners not to do this. If pipes are frozen, it's best to contact a professional, he said.