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Cold consequences

"I don't remember seeing it this cold," Blais said. "The change in temperature has been so drastic."

Pyrofax Energy service employees Jim Nash of Warrensburg and Frank Morehouse of Chestertown also dealt with the aftermath of the frigid air.

Several of the company service vehicles wouldn't start, but they got their own trucks moving so they could thaw out customers' frozen regulators on LP gas tanks, repair overworked furnaces that quit, and thaw out a baseboard heating system in which the recirculating fluid was frozen solid despite anti-freeze.

"We've really been busy this morning," Nash said.

Linda Walters in the Pyrofax office in Chestertown echoed the point.

She said some customers - wary of high prevailing heating fuel prices -had let their outdoor fuel tanks get too low, and condensation in the tanks froze up, blocking the flow of fuel.

"The cold temperatures are severe," she warned, noting that Pyrofax employees were responding to many calls in which homeowners had procrastinated on furnace tune-ups, and their furnaces quit Sunday night under the additional stress.

Devin Scherer of Hometown Oil also said his service employees were helping customers with sluggish fuel in outdoor tanks, repairing furnaces that had quit outright, and refilling empty fuel tanks.

One of the furnaces quitting under stress was a boiler at the town of Chester Municipal Center, town supervisor Fred Monroe reported. When he arrived at work Monday, the temperatures in the building had dropped as low as 50 degrees fahrenheit.

Carol LaGrasse of Stony Creek said her house got about that cold Sunday night. Her home has no fuel tanks and no connections to electric lines, because she and her husband Peter live "off the grid."

Their home stays warm primarily through solar gain, or the sun's energy warming their home. When temperatures drop into the teens, they may have to fire up their woodstove intermittently she said, but when it's below zero, they need to keep the blaze going to keep it comfortable.

LaGrasse said she was exhausted Sunday night, so she didn't bother to get up occasionally during the night and throw chunks of wood on the fire - so the temperature in their house fell to 53 degrees or so by morning when outside it was 25 or 30 below zero.

"I was tired and I decided not to feed the fire," she said.

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