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Firefighters Battle Fire And Ice In East Norriton; 5 Injured

Frigid temeratures made firefighters jobs a lot tougher as hoses and roads were freezing. (credit: Jim Melwert)

Frigid temeratures made firefighters jobs a lot tougher as hoses and roads were freezing. (credit: Jim Melwert)

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By Al Novack and Jim Melwert

EAST NORRITON, Pa. (CBS) — A house fire in East Norriton Township, Pa. has sent five people, including two firefighters, to the hospital with injuries.  And lingering problems could affect neighbors for most of the day today.

Officials say the stubborn blaze started about 1am this morning and heavily damaged a home in the 3000 block of Whitehall Road. The fire took 2½ hours to bring under control. All the water used to put out the fire turned into ice.

East Norriton fire chief Jim Staufenberg says the frigid temperatures affected everything — ladders and hoses were freezing.

“Water, as soon as it hit the street, even just a little bit, it was freezing instantly, and literally people were just falling instantly, so it was those types of problems, where we had to say, ‘Get everybody on the grass, make sure nobody’s operating on hard surfaces,’ so we had a better chance of not falling.”

The chief also says some of the water was rising up over firefighters’ boot tops and filling their boots, raising concerns of frostbite.  So it was just brutal conditions for these guys.

Three residents were injured. At least two of them jumped from an upper story window to escape the flames.

Whitehall Road was covered in ice near the scene, and it’s expected to remain closed for several hours. The ice is so thick, a plow was being brought in to scrape it off the street.

The fire marshal is investigating the cause of the fire.

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