WINONA, Minn. (WKBT) -

The recent cold weather has Winona residents taking extreme measures to unfreeze their water.

Winona's Fire Department has seen an increase in fires in southern Minnesota due to residents using welding equipment to thaw their water pipes.

Residents are connecting their welding equipment to water mains and city hydrants and using the electricity generated from them to thaw out their own pipes.

Winona's water department says by redirecting the electricity generated from the hydrants and mains to their own house, it could cause future problems during a fire.

"I guess we always feel stay away from the hydrants because we know it's from the fire protection and not anything else,” said Winona Water Department Superintendent Bob Dunn. “So we don't want things wrecked because somebody's got a welder on their giving it too much juice.”

Generating electricity from the hydrants can cause freezing or leaking, which takes time away from the city's fire department when responding to a fire.

"The City of Winona has a wonderful hydrant supply, but you have to understand when we commit to a hydrant we think it's going to work, so when it doesn't work we have to commit to another one so that takes some time,” said Winona Fire Assistant Chief Britt Hendrickson.

City officials say the best way to prevent any freezing in your pipes is to call a plumber or keep you water running at steady pencil sized stream.

If you have any questions, contact the Winona Water Department at (507) 457-8272 from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. or the Winona Fire Department at (507) 457-6302. For after hour emergencies, contact the Law Enforcement Center at (507) 457-6302.