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October 29, 2012

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The heat is really on in this Pudong house

RESIDENTS of a house in the Pudong New Area were evacuated yesterday, a day after a tile on the ground floor became a "heated" object, sizzling at a temperature of nearly 70 degrees Celsius.

The ground floor remained at a "high fever" of around 40 degrees yesterday, after repair workers cut off power.

Residents of the house in Tangzhen Town freaked out like cats on hot bricks on Saturday when they accidentally stepped on the 2-square-meter hot tile.

Community officials and repair workers are monitoring and collecting the temperature data every two hours, which will be sent for further investigation today.

The marble tile on the ground floor mysteriously began heating a week ago and became boiling hot in the following days. The weird phenomenon was first encountered by a cleaner last Thursday when she found the ground dried very fast after she sprayed water on it.

"We called professional electricians to check the circuits but no short circuit or power leakage was found," said the landlady, surnamed Huang. She feared the tile would explode and therefore called the fire department on Saturday.

Firefighters poked three small holes into the tile, causing a lot of hot vapor to shoot up to 50 centimeters high. As it was measured then, the temperature of the tile was 69 degrees and that under the ground reached 92 degrees.

The vapor had a scent of limestone and kept oozing out of the holes, Huang said. Firefighters said the vapor was non-toxic, but they failed to find the source of the heat.

The strange phenomenon drew hordes of villagers and also caught the attention of related departments that sent workers to the scene on Saturday to figure out the cause.

"The vapor has been confirmed as not being methane. And the heat has no relation with geological factors," a deputy town mayor, surnamed Lu, said.

"The power supply department found electrical activities under the tile and suspected illegal power use. We removed the tile, but found nothing untoward under it. But the truth is the temperature indeed dropped a lot after the power supply was cut.

"So far, we haven't found out the cause or the source of the heat," Lu added.

All the house residents were evacuated and electricity switches shut off yesterday amid safety concerns. The temperature on the ground was around 40 degrees, Lu said.


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