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Cold weather prompted power outages and burst pipes across Houston, but no reported deaths were connected to Saturday’s freezing temperatures.

A spike of heater-related house fires was linked to the brisk weather.

It’s expected to get even colder Saturday night and Sunday morning, with temperatures in the low teens to high 20s, the National Weather Service said.

Meanwhile, officials urged residents to take shelter and to avoid any potentially icy roads.

“We have to take care of our people,” said Houston Fire Department Assistant Chief Adrian Treviño.

The cold snap claimed at least three lives late last week — a couple who died in a fire Thursday that was likely sparked by a heating appliance and a homeless man who was killed Friday after accidentally setting himself on fire trying to stay warm.

Calls for fire services are up 10 percent to 15 percent in Houston, and plumbers reported huge increases in calls Saturday.

“We’re really slammed,” said Manuel Garcia, the owner of Spartan Service, who was juggling about 100 calls for plumbing problems Saturday.

“We expected some pipes freezing, but not this volume,” he said.

Workers at homeless shelters said they continued to be well over capacity with people taking shelter. Volunteers have been busy handing out blankets to homeless people who choose to remain outside, said Juan Alines, a Salvation Army spokesman. More donations of warm-weather gear are needed.

Shelter capacity was extended across the city to make sure as many people as possible were kept warm.

“The main concern is that something happens to them, that they’re not protected, that they’re not prepared for the cold weather,” Alines said.

CenterPoint Energy officials reported they were operating at normal levels, said spokeswoman Alicia Dixon. About 10,000 of the company’s 2 million customers were without power Saturday afternoon.

The company has also temporarily suspended pulling the plug on customers with delinquent bills.

“We have not been working any disconnects for non-payment on gas or electrical since Wednesday,” Dixon said. Workers will refrain from cutting off service for “the duration of this cold,” she said.

Temperatures are expected to rise to as high as the 60s later this week.

Via: Chron.com

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