Fire and Ice: Crews Battle Cold Along with Apartment Fire

Sub-zero wind chills caused fire nozzles and firefighter's breathing equipment to freeze up

By Associated Press

ENNIS — Firefighters faced subfreezing temperatures that caused their equipment to ice up Wednesday morning as they battled a fire at a four-unit apartment building in the southwestern Montana town of Ennis.

“Everything was freezing up,” including nozzles and breathing equipment, said Joe Brummell, director of Disaster and Emergency Services for Madison County.

The fire was reported at about 5:45 a.m. by a resident of one of the apartments, he said.

By the time the fire was out at about 8 a.m., three of the four apartments were a total loss, Brummell said. Three people were displaced, but no one was injured, he said.

The Madisonian newspaper captured an image of firefighter Pat Noack with his helmet, beard and his gear covered in ice.

The temperature was zero degrees Fahrenheit (minus 18 Celsius) in Ennis on Wednesday morning, Brummell said, with winds blowing 5 to 10 mph (8-16 kph), causing subzero wind chill factors.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation, but it is believed to have started in the attic of one of the apartments, Brummell said.

Ennis, a community of 850 people, is a popular fly-fishing destination about 50 miles southwest of Bozeman.

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