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Thawing out from Fighting a Fire

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SHENANDOAH -- Some fire crews in Schuylkill County are still thawing out equipment and even repairing some that was damaged during a huge fire-fighting effort in this weekend's frigid cold.

Crews also cleaned up the damage done to National Penn Bank along Main Street in Shenandoah.

The bank has some water and smoke damage inside, but is frozen solid on the outside from water used to put out a fire the day before at a vacant building next door.

More than 100 firefighters from all over Shenandoah and Schuylkill County fought the fire on one of the coldest days of the winter.

"The frigid temperatures, below zero with the wind chills, really put a burden on our fire fighters," said Rick Examites with Phoenix Fire Co.

"The guys out there, in the 12 hours, it's wet. They are getting wet. It was like 14 below with the wind chill. We were concerned about guys losing fingers or toes, and getting exhausted," said Chief Darrell Harris with Ryan Township Emergency Rescue Squad.

Harris brought in a rehab tent to help some of the firefighters warm up and get checked out.

"Everybody that I talked to thought it was great. They had a place to get in and out of the cold, get warmed up, get rested," Harris added.

Most of the fire trucks that responded to Sunday morning's fire were frozen over and completely covered in icicles. After the fire, more than 24 hours later, some were still thawing out.

"Once we all shut down, most of our equipment froze up. We had to take our trucks back to the garage and get heated up. We had one problem with our ladder truck in town. It had some damage done to it. The water pipe had frozen," Examites said.

The pipe on the ladder of the fire truck had to be sawed off even after crews spent three hours trying to thaw it out.

All five fire companies in Shenandoah reported frozen equipment after fighting that fire in the frigid temperatures. It left thousands, if not tens of thousands of dollars in damages.