UTICA - Along with battling recent fires, firefighters are also battling the dangerous cold. They say the polar vortex is making it difficult for them to actually put fires out.
Officials with the Utica Fire Department say the bitter cold makes the water freeze as they're fighting fires, and can cause a number of health complications for fire crews. Firefighters can get wet as they're putting a fire out, which can be dangerous because of frostbite and the possibility of hypothermia.
The department says in order to prevent that from happening, they rotate crews to make sure their firefighters are not out in the elements for too long.
Heavy winds are also a challenge.
"You have the wind that we've had - and the wind really can wreak havoc. It can make the fire much more intense and grow even that much more fast. Plus, the fact that this time of year you have snow on roofs, so you've got a loaded weight, especially when it turns to water as opposed to just snow," says Assistant Fire Chief George Clark.
Fire officials say during the cold season you should be careful about using portable heaters, and make sure they're not near anything that is combustible and it’s running efficiently. They're also urging homeowners to be careful when using candles.
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