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Firefighters Suffer Through Extreme Cold To Battle Brooklyn Lumber Blaze

Brooklyn Lumber Yard Fire

An extra-alarm fire ripped through the Marly Building Supply lumber yard in Brooklyn early Saturday, Jan. 4. (Credit: Sweetina Kakar/1010 WINS)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Firefighters endured extreme cold overnight as they battled an extra-alarm blaze that ripped through a lumber yard in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

The fire broke out around 12:30 a.m. Saturday at the Marley Building Supply yard, at Meeker Avenue and Varick Street in Brooklyn. It took 200 firefighters seven hours to bring the five-alarm blaze under control, fire officials told 1010 WINS.

The firefighters ran into trouble because of frozen hydrants, cold temperatures, and the wood that was feeding the flames.

And as 1010 WINS’ Roger Stern reported, when water sprayed from the firehoses, it turned into ice almost immediately.

“A lumber yard in these temperatures – in these conditions – is definitely one of the worst possible scenarios, situations that the members are faced with,” said FDNY Deputy Chief Brendan McSweeney.

The conditions made it tough for the fire crews, who were all trying to stay warm themselves.

“As things were brought more under control, we have to call units from around the city to swap out, if you will, because it’s unsafe to be operating for that extensive period of if time — even with the gear – because the human body needs a little warmth every now and then, as you well know,” McSweeney said.

Overnight, the low dropped to 8 degrees in Central Park, and minus 13 in some outlying areas.

McSweeney said it was also tough getting to the scene of the fire.

“From block to block, there’s large piles of different lumber inside, and basically everything caught fire,” he told Stern.

The Red Cross also pitched in with warm drinks to make the challenging work more bearable, CBS 2’s Janelle Burrell reported.

“For them to be out here working in these conditions just to have a warm cup of coffee or hot chocolate helps them battle this blaze,” David Pierre explained.

Many of Marley’s employees showed up on Saturday morning to find their workplace in ruins.

“There’s a lot of people who are going to be out of work over here,” former employee Victor Genao said, “The boss is a great guy. I just feel sorry for all the workers.”

Part of the westbound Brooklyn-Queens Expressway was closed early Saturday because the flames were getting dangerously close to the highway. The same section was closed for a second time later, because the water firefighters were using was icing the roadway.

The expressway reopened just after 6:30 a.m.

No injuries were reported in the fire.

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