Fires are usually harder to contain because of hot, dry conditions. Not so for an apartment fire in Minneapolis which occurred after an explosion most likely caused by a gas leak. This Minneapolis building fire is being challenged by subzero temperatures which are making conditions extremely difficult for the area firefighters who report having found an unidentified body.
The explosion and fire occurred on Wednesday and have left 14 people hospitalized with at least 6 of them in critical condition. Firefighters also report having found an unidentified body in the rubble of the building.
During a press conference on Thursday, John Fruetel, the Minneapolis Fire Chief, said that there were two men that are still unaccounted for. Whether either of these men is the unidentified body that was found is not determined as of this time. The two men are MriMri Farah and Ahmed Ali. The two were roommates.
Recovery efforts will resume Friday as firefighters attempt to tear down the building. This effort has already proven challenging because the Minneapolis building fire which has already uncovered an unidentified body, is also challenged by subzero conditions.
The temperatures for much of the time the firefighters were working Thursday were well below zero. Also the fire was on the third story which forced firefighters to use dangerous measures such as ladders that were frozen by the extreme cold.
The combination of fire and ice has made these conditions extremely dangerous for the Minneapolis firefighters. Fruetel said that conditions such as these cause ladders to freeze and other crucial equipment such as nozzles and pumps to stop working because they are frozen. Another major worry is that any skin that is exposed to these conditions for a long period of time is at risk for developing frost bite.
Fruetel added that it is Minneapolis protocol that when the temperatures get this cold they make a warm location for firefighters to recover.
“Just the physical demands of the job certainly change when we get a lot of ice and snow and this kind of stuff,” Fruetel said.
Although firefighters in Minneapolis are used to these kinds of conditions it is still a very dangerous time of the year to fight a fire with the temperatures as low as they are now.
Even the best plans are compromised by the cold. With the conditions as they are in Minneapolis, knocking a building down takes a longer period of time which gives the flames more time to advance. Fruetel also added that simple things like advancing a hose line become difficult because you are basically walking on a skating rink.
Minneapolis firefighters will continue to work, but they will take extreme precaution and take their time if they must. So far there have been a couple slips because of ice that has collected but there have also been no reported injuries to any firefighters.
14 are injured and two missing in a Minneapolis building fire that has already found one unidentified body and is currently forcing firefighters to battle subzero conditions.
By Nick Manai