UPDATE: Crews battle fire, face challenges in cold - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

UPDATE: Crews battle fire, face challenges in cold

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Chattanooga Firefighters worked through a number of challenges at an early morning duplex fire Wednesday.

Crews got the call around 6:40 Wednesday morning at a duplex on the 1500 block of Taylor Street. Flames were visible from several miles away on Amnicola Highway. Police even blocked off Wilcox Boulevard and Dodson Avenue while firefighters worked the scene.

The fire was put out in about 45 minutes. Crews spent some time putting out hot spots in more difficult to get to areas.

Officials say the duplex was abandoned and no injuries have been reported.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

But as Channel 3 learned Wednesday, the cold only complicated the process of extinguishing the fire.

There were multiple problems firefighters faced:

1. Frozen Hydrant
The first fire hydrant crews tried was frozen, so they had to use water from the truck until they could find a working hydrant.

"Down here in Chattanooga, our water lines are not that deep, so when you have temperatures like we have on these days, you can have a lot more frozen hydrants," said Senior Firefighter Dan Bryan.

Bryan said hydrants do freeze occasionally but there's a Plan B: the pumpers in their trucks carry 400-500 gallons each. Firefighters used that water before locating a second working hydrant nearby.

2. Downed Power Lines
The Electric Power Board (EPB) was called to help firefighters Wednesday when they discovered downed power lines outside the home, making their jobs even more dangerous.

"The power board got on the scene quickly, de-energized that and made it a lot safer for the firefighters," said Deputy Chief Chris Adams.

3. Black Ice
Wednesday morning marked the third straight morning of below-freezing temperatures. Water runoff from the sight froze to the ground, so Public Works was called in to salt and sand the ground.

"It's chilly and you have to be worried about walking around," Bryan said. "There's quite a bit of black ice from the water that we use to fight the fire."

4. Frozen Gear
But it isn't just the ground that's soaked, firefighter's gear freezes, too. Bryan's helmet even had ice on the clear viewfinder.

"As you can see, my helmet has some ice on it from the water icing up inside," said Bryan.

With only one set of gear, Bryan wears the same 50 pounds of equipment all day. He knows it will be dirty and wet when called to the next fire. With temperatures this low, he said, it takes a couple of days for his gear to completely dry.

The fire department's "mass casualty" bus was brought in to provide temporary shelter for the firefighters to warm up with snacks and warm drinks.

"It's different challenges from what you might expect in the summer but it's still pretty much the same job," said Bryan.

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