Firefighters Battle More Than Flames in Frigid Cold

Freezing temperatures and biting wind are among the most difficult conditions for firefighters. For fire crews at Lake Arrowhead Wednesday, they added even more challenges.

Crews from four units responded to a blaze in the 200 block of Blackfeet Trail around 11 a.m. Lake Arrowhead VFD Chief Mike Hall said the fire started in the chimney then spread throughout the home.

Just getting to the blaze was a challenge for fire crews. At least three emergency response vehicles got stuck on their way to the scene. And, the first pumper at the fire was put out of commission by the freezing temperatures.

"In transit, the air was so cold," said Hall, "even with them running, they still froze up and would not pump water." It wasn't until 15 minutes later, when Lake Arrowhead VFD's new pumper arrived on scene, that firefighters could even start throwing water on the flames.

An elderly couple was home when the fire broke out. They made it out of the home, their two cats didn't. To make matters worse, Hall said the couple's desperate attempts to save their cats might have made matters worse. By opening doors in the home, they added more oxygen to the fire. Hall said they may have been able to save at least some of the home otherwise.

The American Red Cross is putting the couple up in a hotel for a few days. They will have a warm place to stay while they look for a new home.

Fire crews from Lake Arrowhead Ranch Estates, Jolly and Henrietta also helped fight the fire.

Tim Barnosky, Newschannel 6.