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Firefighters busy during arctic blast

January 16, 2014
J.T. Whitehouse , The Town Crier

While most of Canfield stayed indoors and warm during the Arctic blast on Jan. 6, Cardinal Joint Fire District firefighters had their hands full with weather related calls.

Firefighters had to deal with everything from gasoline spills to a burnt out electric motor on top of the usual medical emergencies.

According to Fire Chief Don Hutchison, it was unusual to get two calls on spilled gas within an hour, but thats what happened with a call Neff Court and another on Glenview Road.

"The cars were outside with fuel line freeze up," Hutchison said.

He said the cars were pushed into a heated garage and the change in temperature caused both to experience a cracked fuel line. The first call was for a slight leakage, but the second call was much more severe.

"It dumped close to five gallons of gas onto the floor and into the drain," he said. "Our guys had to use foam and flush the sewer lines for close to 45 minutes."

The actual temperature was -10 degrees, but firefighters stayed with it to insure no danger of fire.

More problems surfaced when the south and east quadrants of the township experienced a power outage. Power was off close to one-and-a-half hours. When the power was restored, one phase still remained out. For most homes the third phase wasn't a big issue, but for commercial buildings it was a problem.

A roof-mounted blower system on a commercial building off U.S. 224 normally operates with three phase motors, but with the one phase out, the motor struggled to operate on two 110 volt lines. The motor began to overheat and started to send smoke into the structure, which set off the smoke alarm. Firefighters used a ladder to gain access to the roof. Once on top of the building they were able to shut the motor down. The outside temperatures at that time recorded minus 10 degrees with a wind chill factor of minus 34 degrees.

"They said it was bitter up there," Hutchison said.

The third phase of electricity was off for close to six hours. Hutchison said the power outage caused several furnace motors to burn out.

Over the weekend, the department prepared for numerous calls on cracked pipes. In cold temperatures a fire sprinkler system can freeze up and pipes crack. They won't leak because of the ice in the line, but when the weather warms up and the ice melts it can cause the system to flow and set off an alarm.

For the most part, the calls during the sub-zero weather were minimal. Hutchison said residents of Canfield took proper precautions.

"Everyone seemed to be safe that night," he said.

The department also handled two medical calls and one vehicle crash on Jan. 6 in addition to the gas spills and burned out electrical motor.



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