Firefighters battle several blazes in bitter cold
LOWELL, Mass. (WHDH) -- Fire and ice is a tough combination as firefighters find themselves battling a Smokey blaze.
Frigid temperatures froze the water used to put out the fires.
"It's the worst conditions for us,” said a firefighter.
In Lowell it was the smoke that sent Jacinta Leonardo into the streets without a thought for the temperatures.
"I didn't really care if it was cold or not. I didn’t really feel the cold. Didn’t even notice I didn’t have socks on until later when my toes were gonna fall off,” said Leonardo.
There were fires in neighboring Lawrence and a house fire in Barre that took the life of an elderly woman, as well as a second fire in Lowell, taxing the extra manpower needed to fight fires in cold, windy conditions.
"The guys just can’t work as long as they normally do. That’s why we go with the extra alarms more quickly and the guys that were here we get them through rehab and we keep doing that, using the extra crews where we need 'em,” said Edward Pitta, Lowell Fire Chief.
Slips and falls, frozen hydrants and pumps all problems to look out for on days like this. One firefighter used the truck's exhaust to warm his equipments and his hands.
A bus was brought in to give firefighters a warm place to take a break.
The Red Cross was also able to borrow the cafeteria at a nearby school for more room. But when so many firefighters resist taking a rest, the Red Cross comes to them.
"Believe me, a little cup of hot chocolate like that is like getting an 18 ounce t-bone,” said Michael Walsh.
“The best thing of a fire right here. The best thing in a fire, the Red Cross, they do more for us than anybody else,” said a firefighter.
A couple of the firefighters were trapped on an upper floor and had to be rescued with a ladder. One was taken to the hospital and treated for minor burns.