Jan 14, 2010 10:08 AM by Scott Seroka, NBC
When the lakes freeze in the midst of a Minnesota winter, thousands and thousands of 'ice houses' pop up across the landscape.
Few of them, however, are like the one that's taken shape in Chaska.
On Monday, a city resident looked next door and noticed an icy buildup on the side of her neighbor's house. When she walked around back, she encountered a frozen wall that ran from the ground to the roof line. It was obvious that something was terribly wrong.
The woman called Chaska city officials, who sent a crew to investigate. They think a pipe burst in the upper level of the home while the residents were away, flooding the home and turning it into an icy disaster area.
"With no activity inside the house, no water being run, with the air movement being less in the house, it kind of sets it up for these situation where a house can freeze up and you end up with a broken pipe," explained Chaska Water and Sewer Superintendant Dean Hylland. Hylland says it's the worst damage he's seen in 31 years on the job.
The owners were in their native country of Brazil, and had been away for at least three weeks. They returned home last night to discover the frozen state their home was in, and quickly contacted their insurance company.
At this point, it is uncertain whether the house can be saved.
Chaska officials recommend that homeowners turn their water off if they are to be gone for more than a week, especially in the winter.