By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Freeze hampers firefighting effort
Homeless man built fire in garage for warmth
ICY-fire-DSC 2471-LT
A fire-gutted garage in the 600 block of Virginia Avenue is the result of a 4 a.m. blaze that challenged firefighters with a 23 degree temperature that turned water from their hoses into ice when it collected on the ground. - photo by GLENN KAHL

Firefighters’ spray turned into ice when it hit the ground at a fully engulfed garage fire shortly before 4 a.m. Monday causing them to slip and slide while attacking the blaze at the rear of a boarded up home in the 600 block of Virginia Avenue west of Sequoia Street.

One firefighter reportedly fell, hurting his back; however he wasn’t transported as a result.  He was relieved from his shift later in the morning to go home and rest, according to Battalion Chief Kyle Shipherd.  A neighbor running through the smoke to check on an elderly relative living next door to the fire also slipped on the ice. That person suffered minor injuries.

Shipherd said the cold 23 degree air mass had forced the smoke to remain close to the ground creating a fog-like situation for approaching fire units.  The chief said when he arrived on the scene flames were leaping out of the roof of the detached garage. He set the estimated loss at $25,000.

A homeless man attempting to keep warm in the structure by building a fire was believed to have been responsible for the blaze, according to another homeless individual who spoke to fire personnel. The rear of the extended garage is adjacent to the alley fence frequented by transients.

The firefighters were on the scene for nearly two hours with 16 career personnel and three reserves.