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Frigid temps hinder firefighters battle against Youell's Oyster House blaze

Published On: Jan 22 2013 06:00:00 PM CST
Updated On: Jan 23 2013 04:58:22 AM CST

Fighting a fire is an extreme challenge in any condition but the cold weather did present additional problems Tuesday morning at the Youell's Oyster House fire in Allentown.

ALLENTOWN, Pa. -

Fighting a fire is an extreme challenge in any conditions, but the cold weather did present additional problems Tuesday morning at the Youell's Oyster House fire in Allentown.

"Because of the amount of water we use, it becomes a sheet of ice out there so you have slip hazards," said Captain John Christopher with the Allentown Fire Department.

Christopher was one of more than two dozen firefighters called to the scene. The fire itself took about three hours to get under control and icy conditions even sent one firefighter to the hospital.

"He was running over to help people so he was moving a little too quickly, can't really fault him for that but he lost his footing," said Christopher.

Slipping isn't the only danger when temperatures drop below freezing.

“We have equipment failures because of it when we're flowing water, today we had a couple bails on the nozzles freeze up,” said Christopher.

Hydration is also key, even though most people associate it with hot temperatures, Christopher added it's just as important in the cold in order to avoid hypothermia.

"If you're dehydrated, the first thing your body's going to do is going to pull blood away from your extremities to warm your core and that's when you're going to get your hypodermic conditions or your frost bite," he said.

Finally, every firefighter packs a winter bag with extra socks, gloves and a hat in case they get wet.

"That's the worst part: when people's gloves gets soaked or they get water down their boots or something of that nature," said Christopher.

Four other firefighters were hurt battling the blaze. All five have been treated and released.

As for what started the fire, Christopher said it may take a while to find out because of the amount of damage.