Firefighters battle more than flames in cold weather

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MADISON COUNTY, Ala. – Fire destroyed a home on Jordan Road in Madison County Wednesday evening. The homeowner was asleep in his recliner when a neighbor knocked on the door and told him there was a fire around the chimney. The high winds swept the flames right through the attic of the home from one end to the other.

Firefighters on the scene battled more than the blaze. They also had to fight the elements.

Icicles hung from the roof of the burning home, a reminder of the cold weather. Bobby Phillips is the Chief of the Mooresmill Volunteer Fire Department. He said, “Everything we have is freezing up.” That includes air tank gear they wear when they go into a burning structure. “Once we use them,” Phillips said, “We have to take them off, put them in the truck. The truck is heated and we start to thaw them out.”

Water from the fire hoses froze on everything, making a dangerous job even more difficult. “It's all over our equipment,” the chief said. “Any time they climb a ladder, they're all solid ice so they have to be extremely careful coming up and down.”

Anything that got wet froze in a matter of minutes, including the turnout gear that's supposed to protect those battling the flames. “We're ending up having to take off our gloves because the ice has frozen our gloves so solid, to do any work we have to take 'em off and use our hands then put our gloves back on and try to find a way to get warm,” said Phillips.

Firefighters from Moores Mill, Central, New Market, Harvest, Meridianville, Gurley and Hazel Green rotated out on this fire so they could spend a few minutes in the trucks just to get warm. Chief Phillips said, “Kinda hard to believe you've got to warm up on a house fire but once you get the fire put out, now it's nothing but cold weather.”

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