Firefighters Brave the Cold

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MUNCY CREEK TOWNSHIP -- Firefighters in one part of Lycoming County had a busy day. A vacant house caught on fire around 5:30 Wednesday morning. The bone-chilling weather made it difficult for crews battling the flames.

Fire and ice do not mix very well, especially when the fire hydrants and hoses freeze. Firefighters near Muncy faced those problems when a vacant house caught fire.

"As soon as we come outside we work with water. That`s our job. It freezes up instantly when it`s this cold," said Jamie Brelsford, Muncy Area Deputy Chief.

Fire investigators said a gas hot water boiler caught fire at the vacant house near Muncy. Around 50 firefighters were there. Muncy Area Fire Chief Scott Delany said they had to deal with a frozen fire hydrant, frozen hoses and a lot of ice.

"We had multiple firefighters slipping and falling. It just makes it very difficult, the weather conditions," said Delany.

"Basically as soon as you come outside in this cold weather you freeze up instantly. You can see the gear is pretty much stiff. It just makes everything a lot more difficult," said Brelsford.

A school bus company dropped a bus off and kept it running with the heat on so firefighters could come inside and recuperate from the cold weather.

"We just rotated in and out, tried to keep everybody warm and dry. It`s next to impossible, but you do your best," said Greg Delany, Muncy Area Assistant Chief.

Firefighters also dealt with the conditions by drinking lots of coffee, throwing down non-skid materials to avoid slipping, and rolling up icy hoses. Chief Delany said it is all part of the job.

"It`s just unfortunate that it happens when it`s single digits or zero degrees. It makes it that much more difficult," said Chief Scott Delany.

The house that caught on fire was vacant, but was in the process of being remodeled. A state police fire marshall said the fire was accidental and was caused by a gas hot water boiler.