Firefighters Face Challenges Putting Out Fires in the Cold

HENRICO (WRIC)—A huge fire caused major damage to a Henrico home and investigators are trying to figure out how it started.

Crews were called to Wishart Road around 3:20 p.m. Thursday, where flames were shooting through the roof and the fire spread quickly.

No one was home, but extra firefighters had to be called in to help fight the blaze.

Water in the fire hydrants wasn't frozen, but there were other challenges like frozen gloves, slick roads and keeping crews warm.

Hillary Estes' neighbor's home nearly burnt to the ground on one of the coldest days of the year.

“It was up in flames,” she said. “I've never in my life seen anything like that. High flames and a lot of smoke.”

Dozens of firefighters responded, but each one could only work a few minutes at a time because it's freezing.

“Extremely cold temperatures like this are a challenge for us,” said Chief Doug Reynolds.

A challenge because crews are using water—and lots of it.

It gets on their gear, hands and faces, then freezes, making it hard to do their job.

“We call for an extra couple companies to come out just as manpower just because it's so cold.”

Crews plan on cold days like this. A pump inside fire trucks is turned on to keep water circulating and plastic bags are attached to nozzles.

“This is a very low tech way from preventing it from freezing up.”

The trucks have chains to make it through icy roads and before they leave, firefighters spread sand and salt on drenched streets.

“There's gonna be a lot of water around and it quickly freezing on these streets, so we don't want nobody to fall.”

But no matter how cold it gets, they'll be there fighting fires and helping people like Estes' neighbor.

“I'm very glad they're here … very grateful that they're here,” she said.

A few suggestions from firefighters to prevent winter fires include making sure smoke detectors work, the heating unit is clear of debris and having a 36 inch circle of safety around your space heater inside.


Copyright 2014 by Young Broadcasting of Richmond

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