Firefighters battle fire and ice in sub-zero temperatures

By: Jenny You Email
By: Jenny You Email

(WEAU) – Firefighters were battling fire and ice in freezing temperatures Monday in Western Wisconsin. The cold weather can be a problem for fire crews, adding to the already challenging duty of putting out a fire.

In the Town of Spring Brook in Dunn County, crews responded to an unoccupied mobile home fire.

“He (the owner of mobile home) had tarps around the building. He was heating it with a wood furnace so he could continue with the construction and he wasn't there at the time,” said Chief John Baus with the Menomonie Fire Department.

Baus said with such low temperatures, the water that’s used to spray down the fire can quickly turn into ice and becomes a dangerous hazard.

“We did get some help from Elk Mound and Durand. They're helping us to haul water out here and also for fire support so we can rotate the guys a little bit so not ever body had to be outside as much as possible,” said Baus.

And you know it’s much too cold when the water can’t get through the hose.

“We are having problems with the hose; it's freezing up. We try to keep the water moving so that they don't but we had one hose burst,” said Baus.

Back at the Menomonie Fire Department where the burst hose was thawing out, leftover ice could be seen inside the hose.

Even the oxygen air tanks that crews need to breathe inside the blazing buildings were having issues too.

“Our air packs are freezing up. It might be because it’s cold or we are getting water in them. Radios are sticking because of water and ice. Definitely problem with the cold weather,” said Baus.

No one was hurt in that fire and the building is estimated to be at a total loss.

Near Osseo, a similar story at a bedroom house fire that crews responded to.

“Our hoses freeze up, our guys freeze up, our equipment freezes up. We had one engine go down. That's why we called back up right away. That engine came in and worked fine for about an hour and then that started to freeze up,” said Chief Nels Gunderson with the Osseo Fire Department.

The chief said this is the time of year we often see fiery disasters.

“I think everything with space heaters, electrical, matches all those things people want to use to keep warm. They really got to watch it. Make sure their smoke detectors are working. Make sure those heaters are shut off before you go to bed, stuff like that,” said Gunderson who added he woke up Monday morning with a feeling that something was going to happen.

The fire department also got help from Augusta and Fall Creek Fire Departments.

No one was hurt in the bedroom fire and crews were able to contain it quickly.

Gunderson said homeowners were able to return to the home safe and sound.

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