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Firefighters Battle Flames, Frigid Temps In Queens

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Firefighters in Queens spent the night battling two house fires as wind chills dipped as low as 10 below zero.

The first fire broke out around 10:30 p.m. on 109th Avenue and 191st Street in Hollis, Queens.

“Flames were shooting out the windows, just roaring,” one neighbor said.

The arctic air added several challenges for firefighters. The conditions were so icy, parts of a ladder truck were left frozen. Firefighters had to use crowbars, axes and a blow torch to try to thaw out the equipment.

Then about an hour later seven blocks away on 104th Avenue and 198th street, another fire broke out at a vacant house. It took firefighters several hours to get the fire under control.

“A fire any time is extremely intensive, but in weather like this, it’s twice as hard,” said FDNY Battalion Chief Don Levy. “We have to rotate them through so you need almost an excessive amount of manpower.”

Along with the icy conditions left over, there were some power issues due to overhead wires sparking and catching fire.

“It was freezing, a long night and a really bad blaze,” said neighbor Debbie Slusher, who lost power from the fire. “We bundled up indoors and try to stay in away from the smoke.”

Three firefighters suffered minor injuries.

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