By Ann Rowland
With temperatures hovering well below zero, Chicago firefighters have had to battle frozen fire hydrants and stiff fire hoses along with fires. On Sunday evening, firefighters were called to the scene of a house fire in the Back of the Yards neighborhood. Upon arriving at the scene, the firefighters encountered frozen fire hydrants hampering their ability to fight the fire. Three dogs were killed in the extra alarm blaze and one firefighter was injured. Homes on both sides of the burning house sustained damage.
On Monday evening, with temperatures around negative 13, firefighters were once again called to the scene of a house fire in the Back of the Yards neighborhood. Fortunately, they didn’t encounter frozen fire hydrants at the scene. “They’ve been cracking all the hydrants and making sure they’re guzzled well the last couple shifts,” Chicago Fire Department Spokesman Larry Langford said.
Whereas Monday night’s frigid temperatures did not hamper the firefighter’s efforts to battle the blaze, they did make it more difficult to recover the hoses after the fire. “When they shut down the lines and don’t open them up fast enough, it starts to freeze, starts to get stiff,” Langford told The Chicago Tribune. “You got to make sure you don’t let a hose sit there too long.”
In these types of weather conditions, firefighters will leave a little water flowing through the hose until they are ready to be recovered. “As soon as you’re done, you shut the water down, you start breaking the joints and rolling it up and forcing the water out of it before it freezes,” Langford said.
Tuesday’s continuing cold temperatures will make clean up more difficult as well.
Langford told The Chicago Tribune that Monday night’s fire started when a curtain next to a space heater caught fire. No one was injured in the fire; however, an ambulance was called to the scene to evaluate the man whose apartment caught on fire. “He was fine. We called an ambulance for him because he’s out there with no clothes on basically and they got him someplace warm before he turned into a patient.” Twelve people were displaced in Monday night’s Back of the Yards fire.
Sources: Chicago Tribune, “Extra-alarm fire ignited by space heater” http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/chi-back-of-the-yards-fire-20140106,0,5831590.story