Cleveland firefighters battle surge of winter blazes

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Flames and smoke spilled out of every door and window during a house fire on State Road Thursday.

Cleveland Fire Department Assistant Chief David Viancourt said it was just one of many fires crews have responded to lately.

"We've had a little bit of a bad run. We had a bad fire over on State Road, had a bad fire on West 6th and there was also a triple two last night in an apartment building," he said.

Viancourt said fires seem to go in spurts, especially in the winter.

"Any extremes are going to test your systems. We find more electrical fires, things like that. People are running more heaters, any number of things," Viancourt said.

Not only is the bitter cold a strain on buildings, the winter weather wears down firefighters who are carrying up to 50 pounds of gear.

"No one goes out and has a water fight in the middle of the winter, but, in some ways, that's analogous to what we're doing" Viancourt said. "It's very, very draining. It is, and you feel it the next day and sometimes for days afterward."

Putting out fires is also dangerous. Over the weekend, a firefighter fell through the floor of a burning home. The firefighter is going to be okay, but outside there's also threats. Firefighters have to deal with slick sidewalks and work around the ice.

The cold is also busting pipes and causing floods.

"These guys are out doing a very, very difficult job in difficult conditions and they're doing it very well," said Viancourt.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, in the winter space heaters account for 40 percent of heating equipment fires.

To stay safe, make sure space heaters are sitting on a level, hard surface, buy a space heater that shuts off automatically if tipped over, and keep kids and pets away from space heaters.

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