“Keep your hydrant clear of snow:” You can help firefighters when it’s bitterly cold, and snow’s fallen

MILWAUKEE -- When temperatures fall, and it becomes bitterly cold out, the risk for fires increases -- and fighting those fires becomes tougher for firefighters.

Fire crews on Saturday night, December 17th were on the scene of a fire at an apartment complex near 76th and Brown Deer Road.

The three-alarm fire happened on Servite Drive near Brown Deer Road Saturday night, December 17th.

According to the Milwaukee Fire Department, four units were damaged by fire on two floors of the building.

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Several people were displaced, but no one was hurt.

"Pretty much gray smoke, flames," a resident said.

This was one of three fires taking place as snow fell and amid bitterly cold temperatures this weekend.

A West Allis home was destroyed after a fire near 72nd and Greenfield early Saturday.

West Allis firefighters responded around 3:30 a.m., and more than five hours later, they were still on scene. Hours before the sun came up, firefighters were feeling the cold and battling intense flames. It was too much for a two-story home.

Two more homes caught fire, but quick work by crews prevented significant loss.

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11 people were displaced, including a family of eight -- but something neighbors had done prior to Saturday may have also helped save homes. Fire crews were thankful neighbors shoveled out fire hydrants after three straight weekends of snowfall.

On Friday night, December 16th, Brookfield firefighters were dispatched to the Toys "R" Us along Moorland Road.

Crews arrived on the scene just before 10:00 p.m. for a report of a fire.

No injuries were reported.

On the heels of these three weekend fires, officials with North Shore Fire/Rescue are reinforcing the importance of fire safety.

Dan Tyk

Dan Tyk

"It's important have a plan and rehearse. We always want two ways out of every room," Lt. Dan Tyk with North Shore Fire/Rescue said.

Lt. Tyk said there is an increase in fires in winter.

"We shouldn`t be using stoves or oven to supplement heating in the house. People start to use candles and alternative heating  -- space heating and electric blankets. People tend to go to bed and sleep the whole night with them and that's not safe," Lt. Tyk said.

Lt. Tyk said he advocates using heating equipment as intended.

Officials with the American Red Cross, assisting more than two dozen after the three weekend fires said prevention and preparation are key.

Patty Flowers

Patty Flowers

"One of the most important things we talk to people about is having working smoke alarms," Patty Flowers with the American Red Cross said.

Something you can do to help firefighters in the event there's a fire at or near your home is clearing fire hydrants, which can save firefighters valuable time.

"Keep your hydrant clear of snow. That is your lifeline. That could mean the difference of you getting out of your house safely if we could get to water quickly or not at a fire. Take it seriously," Lt. Tyk said.

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