Marysville News

Winter weather challenges firefighters

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Temperatures may be up and down, but they are certain to drop again. Typically, lower temperatures mean more people using creative ideas to stay warm.

"Many of these ideas lead to fires," said Marysville Fire Chief Jay Riley.

The Marysville Fire Department responded to three small, separate fires at the same vacant house from Jan. 19 to Jan. 23. Riley said the fires are suspicious but still under investigation.

However, it is not uncommon for people looking for relief from the cold to try to stay warm in vacant houses leading to potential fire hazards. The fire department and arson investigators are still working to determine how these particular fires started.

Riley said there are many different scenarios that turn dangerous. Some people use portable heaters that may not have 'tip-over' protection, which turns them off when they tip over.

Others place blankets or towels too close to heating sources.

Using light extension cords to power heaters that are too light for the electrical draw can also be dangerous.

And chimneys should be checked throughout the burning season to make sure they are clear of creosote that can catch on fire.

Riley said emergency runs do tend to increase in cold temperatures but for a variety of reasons.

"That can be attributed to elderly that are unable or unwilling to drive in the weather ... and, the increase in traffic accidents with snow," said Riley.

Fighting a fire in cold weather presents emergency crews with unique challenges.

"We had a three alarm fire several years ago on West Eighth Street. The temperatures were -15F with wind chills of -25 to -30F, and as the sun went down, it only got colder," said Riley. "A few of the hydrants were frozen and couldn't be used. Everywhere we put water, it turned to ice. Everyone was slipping and falling, we sent three firefighters to the emergency room with frostbite."

Riley said the firefighters at the scene never complained, and did a great job with the conditions presented.

"I was really glad to get everyone back to the station that night to thaw us all out," said Riley.

Riley warns Marysville residents to take precautions against frostbite, carbon monoxide, and ice accidents during the extreme weather.

"We recommend bundling in layers. Frostbite and cold weather exposure can happen quickly," said Riley.

Never run the car to warm it up while it is still in the garage. Carbon monoxide can fill the home and create a dangerous environment.

"Never go onto the ice. Ice skating in Ohio should be done indoors at a skating rink. Ponds and lakes in our area do not have safe ice," said Riley.

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