MILWAUKEE -- Firefighters battled flames and bitterly cold temperatures as they worked to put out a fire near 35th and Hampton on Milwaukee's north side early Thursday morning, December 15th.
Crews responded to the scene of a vacant house fire around 4:30 a.m. Officials say the fire was concentrated in the upper back portion of the home.
"Upon arrival, we found fire blowing out the rear of the building, extending upward," said Milwaukee Fire Battalion Chief Dale Schwark.
Fire crews jumped into action -- with four engine units on scene.
"Normally we only get three, but we got four because it's so cold out," said Schwark.
And those frigid temperatures caused some problems.
"We had a little difficulty initially because of the cold. The first engine was partially frozen -- took us a couple minutes to thaw it out before we could get a line inside and start to put the fire out," said Schwark.
The freezing water is their biggest enemy during cold-weather operations.
"It took us probably four to five minutes to get water. Once we got water, we were able to put the fire out fairly quickly. It was a very short delay, but it was a delay," said Schwark.
Fortunately, the house was vacant.
"We were lucky that the fire was vacant. We still did our primary searches but we were told upon arrival by MPD that the building was vacant," said Schwark.
A short time later they were able to extinguish the fire.
"All the firefighters, men and women, are working extremely hard, but it is a whole lot more difficult not only to fight the fire but to stay warm in the process. To throw water around doesn't really help the situation any," said Schwark.
While battling the blaze, firefighters had to rotate in an attempt to stay warm.
"The problem is, when you start rotating crews -- you send a crew out you bring them back in -- the masks will freeze up on you. So you have to get it done as quickly as possible so you don't have that issue," said Schwark.
No injuries were reported. The cause of the fire is undetermined.
Monitor FOX6 News and FOX6Now.com for updates on this developing story.