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Firefighters challenged by bitter cold fighting pole barn fire

Posted at 7:45 AM, Dec 29, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-29 08:49:14-05

Temperatures below zero make it difficult to do a lot of things outside including fighting fires.

Several departments did just that Wednesday night in Clinton County fighting a fire at a pole barn.

The fire was reported in the 12000 block of West Grand River Highway in Eagle Township just before 7:30 p.m.

Andy Bassar lit a woodstove 15 minutes before his barn went up in massive flames.

“It’s hard to look at,” said Bassar. “It’s also going to be harder to sift through it because it’s all frozen.”

Hours after the fire, icicles have replaced the flames.

With temperatures three degrees below zero, if water didn't freeze in mid-air, it was freezing within seconds after hitting the ground

The Delta Township Fire Department was one of many departments on scene.

“We try to keep it [the water] narrow in the winter time just because of freezing temperatures, we don't want all the access coming back at us and freezing us,” said Michael Roman, Assistant Chief at the Delta Township Fire Department.

Water and ice isn't the only concern. Equipment malfunctions can also make things pretty difficult for firefighters.

“We had problems with our air packs freezing last [Wednesday] night,” said Roman. “Not only will the facemask get ice on it, but the regulators that control how much air we get in will freeze up so we have to switch those out and put those in a warm place.”

The work may be done for firefighters but for investigators, work's just begun.

“It’s very difficult,” said Roman. “They may have to get sledgehammers, they may have to get pickaxes and dig through.”

Eric Gestring from The Mardigian Agency in Saint Johns says it’s important to make sure that you're properly insured.

Gestring strongly recommends anyone with any type of barn to have it surveyed annually.

For homeowners, be sure contact your insurance agent every time you make a large purchase such as a lawn mower or snowmobile.

If you fail to do so, your insurance company may not have to pay out.

The Mardigian Agency has several instructional videos available on YouTube. Click here to view their channel.