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Firefighters battle fire and ice in latest house fires

Published: Monday, Jan. 14 2013 8:20 a.m. MST

WEST BOUNTIFUL — Crews in at least two cities battled both fire and ice overnight in separate incidents.

The fires were the latest in a recent string of blazes along the Wasatch Front. In each case, firefighters reported facing extra challenges due to the extremely cold weather.

Just after 2 a.m. Monday, crews were called to 3145 Elmer (7945 West). Firefighters arrived to find heavy smoke and flames coming from the back of the house from underneath an attached awning, said Unified Fire Authority Capt. Clint Mecham.

An ATV parked under the awning helped fuel the flames. The cause of the fire remained under investigation Monday.

West Valley fire crews were called to assist because of the cold weather.

"This type of weather is always difficult for us," Mecham said.

Not only do firefighters become fatigued faster, but the water sprayed on the structure turns to ice as soon as it hits the ground, creating a hazard for firefighters trying to move around, he said.

• It was a similar situation in West Bountiful about 10:30 p.m. Sunday. Twenty-five firefighters from West Bountiful and Farmington responded to a house fire at 729 W. 1800 North. They arrived to find a fire believed to have stared in the basement and was moving to the first floor, said South Davis Metro Fire Chief Jim Rampton.

One occupant was treated for smoke inhalation. As of Monday morning, a pet was still unaccounted for. The cause of the fire was still being investigated.

Not only are basement fires dangerous to battle on their own, Rampton said, extra firefighters had to be called because of the toll the weather took on crews.

• Earlier Sunday, Unified fire crews were called to a two-alarm house fire in Cottonwood Heights, 8010 S. Royal Lane (2400 East). A man attempting to unthaw pipes by using a torch on an exterior wall accidentally caught insulation on fire about 4 p.m., Mecham said.

Firefighters from Murray and Sandy were called to assist. The fire was similar to an incident in Murray on Jan. 7 when an attic fire was started at 5450 S. Riley Lane (200 West) when a man tried to unthaw his rain gutters using a torch. Damage was estimated at between $20,000 and $25,000.

Mecham recommended homeowners use a blow dryer or something that does not involve an open flame when trying to unthaw pipes.

• Sunday's fires follow a two-alarm house fire in Millcreek early Friday, 4555 S. 785 East, and an attic fire in Grantsville that same morning. The cause of the Millcreek fire was still under investigation. Investigators believe old wiring was the cause of the Grantsville fire.

E-mail: preavy@desnews.com

Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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