Wednesday’s fires stretch resources thin during frigid temps

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A house fire drives two people from their home on East Lindenwood Road near Chana. Both were home at the time and got out safely.

“With any house fire, it’s a race against time,” said Lynn-Scott-Rock Fire Protection District Assistant Chief Rick Mott. “[Firefighters are] focused on the job they need to do.”

63 firefighters and four cold hours — that’s what it took to battle the blaze in rural Ogle County.

“We wound up going to four alarm, which brought in 12 different departments from surrounding areas” said Mott. “All the way into DeKalb County and Winnebago County.”

Mott calls the night ‘a perfect storm’, as several of the local fire agencies they usually use were already in Rockford battling a different blaze at the township highway office.

“It took some of the fire units out of our county,” said Mott. “They went up to West Suburban to assist them.”

Yet, the box alarm was able to get them other resources.

Due to the arctic temps, assisting crews had to be rotated every 20 minutes.

“Big thing is, you don’t want people get frost bite,” said Mott. “You don’t want fire fighters to go down and get hurt. So, you rotate them quite a bit more.”

First responders also ran into many equipment problems.

“The engines were freezing up, valves were freezing up, air packs were freezing up,” said Mott. “You have those additional battles that you don’t have in June.”

Despite the challenges, Mott says firefighters continued the task at hand until the job was finished.

“We were able to keep water pumping, we did have to change out engines. We would have an engine freeze up and we’d change out that engine.”

Mott says he’s also grateful for the help they received from those not in uniform.

“We had a farmer come with a tractor and plow. He was plowing snow around the house so firefighters could get around the house.”

Assistant Chief Mott says they believe the fire might’ve started from the home’s fireplace, but the cause hasn’t been completely determined just yet.

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