Durham County

Firefighters battle below-freezing temps to extinguish Friday morning house fire

Durham city and county firefighters found a working fire when they responded to this vacant house on Ellis Road around 4:16 a.m. Friday.
Durham city and county firefighters found a working fire when they responded to this vacant house on Ellis Road around 4:16 a.m. Friday. Contributed

City and county firefighters battled both the heat and the cold Friday morning when they were called to a house fire at 2470 Ellis Road.

The call about a working structure fire came in at 4:16 a.m. when the temperature outside was in the mid-teens. Firefighters arrived to find a single-story house engulfed in heavy smoke with flames visible in the rear. The home was vacant but incurred heavy damage, Deputy Fire Chief Christopher Iannuzzi said.

The cause of the fire is under investigation, he said.

Iannuzzi said hypothermia and frostbite can be problems for firefighters when the temperature falls, but it wasn’t an issue Friday morning. They are trained to recognize the signs and treat both conditions, he said. In addition, crews regularly rotate out when it’s really hot or really cold to give each other a break, he said.

As long as the water continues to flow, the weather also doesn’t typically affect their equipment, he said. A bigger concern is when water freezes on the pavement or other hard surfaces, creating an icy situation, he said.

“In general, it can get slippery out there, and we’ve got to do a little bit more to make sure people either can get back into a truck and warm up, and get out of wet gear as soon as possible,” he said. “It’s just part of the job.”

After they return to the station, firefighters who get another call can use their spare gear and leave the set that’s wet to dry, he said. If it’s really slippery, they can slip spikes over their boots to gain more traction.

Tammy Grubb: 919-829-8926, @TammyGrubb

  Comments