(01/25/13) - Fighting a fire can be difficult in any weather, but when the wind is howling with sub-freezing temperatures, it really makes things tough.
Bay County firefighters had a difficult time battling a house fire, Friday. It happened on German Road between M-15 and Pine Road in Portsmouth Township.
The homeowner escaped with just the clothes he was wearing.
"I couldn't even see the house, there was so much smoke," said Carl Crabbe, of Bay County.
Crabbe lives 10 minutes away from his son's home. He came over after his son called.
"He called, he said, could you bring him some clothes over, he was outside with just his long johns and his socks, he was upstairs sleeping when the fire started," Crabbe said.
His son's girlfriend was also in the house when the fire started.
"They got out, he went back in to get the house dog, but they couldn't get him out, he has smoke inhalation," Crabbe said.
With the two people out of the home, firefighters concentrated on putting the fire out, which was a difficult task, with the cold air keeping the smoke from rising, keeping it close to the ground - and then there was the wind.
"The wind particularly, because you can't see by the smoke, you can't even see where the fire is at. The fire is in there somewhere, it's creating a lot of smoke, the smoke creates a visibility issue because we can't find the fire to put it out," said Kevin Kratz, of the Merritt Township Fire Department.
The firefighters' equipment freezes up, and the water that falls to the ground creates a sheet of ice.
"There is all kinds of hazards," Kratz said.
Fire crews keep tabs on who is on the frontline of the fire, and for how long.
"You have to keep rotating people, doesn't take very long, you get wind burned, you get frost bite," Kratz said.
Firefighters, mostly volunteers, came from three departments.
"Manpower is the biggest issue. Especially during the day, everyone has a full time job, it's hard to get people out here to get enough people," Kratz said.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.
An account has been set up at Wanigas Credit Union to help with immediate expenses related to the fire. You can make donations at any Wanigas Credit Union.
ABC12 Main Station