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Record-setting cold blankets Forsyth

Some ice, but few major incidents

POSTED: January 7, 2014 3:35 p.m.
Jim Dean/

Workers use power vacuums and a floor scrubber to suck water off the gym floor at Otwell Middle School while a trash can, perched atop the bleachers, catches water that was dripping from a broken pipe in the ceiling.

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Forsyth County experienced a low temperature on Tuesday in the single digits.

The measurement of 4 degrees Fahrenheit was the coldest temperature in National Weather Service records for Cumming, which date back to 2001, edging the previous low of 6 degrees in January 2003.

The bulk of weather-related emergency calls Tuesday came from pipes bursting, authorities said.

The Forsyth County Fire Department responded to several calls in buildings, including senior living facilities and a day care, said Division Chief Jason Shivers.

“That’s typical when you have these spells of very cold weather, especially in commercial buildings the pipes tend to freeze and then rupture as the building heats up,” Shivers said.

The fire department can respond to help with cleaning up, he said, and in most cases evacuation of people inside isn’t necessary.

Commercial buildings are more likely to have pipes burst due to being less insulated, but the fire department will respond to residences too if 911 is called.

“We’ve got the equipment and the vacuums and the tools to help clean up water damage,” Shivers said, “so we’ll be making these kinds of efforts I suspect numerous times through the day [Tuesday] and [Wednesday].”

The department also handled a vehicle fire on Ga. 400 south near Peachtree Parkway (Exit 13) at about 7:30 a.m. that caused the highway to close for some time.

While firefighters put out the blaze, the water turned to ice “very quickly” on the road, Shivers said.

One lane was reopened within about 30 minutes, but the highway wasn’t fully cleared until nearly 9 a.m., after the state Department of Transportation sanded the affected area, he said.

Other than the ice caused by fire hoses, Forsyth County roads had just a few natural ice patches, said Doug Rainwater, spokesman for the sheriff’s office.

A lane on Buford Highway in front of the Cracker Barrel closed for 30 minutes due to ice about 7 a.m., Rainwater said.

The lane reopened once the sun came up and the ice melted, he said, but the roads remained relatively clear.

“Very few people are venturing out for some reason,” he said.


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