Frozen hydrants cause problems for Chicago firefighters during blaze

It was so cold in Chicago that a 129-year-old record was broken and fire hydrants froze, causing problems for firefighters trying to put out a growing blaze


By Hannah Leone
Chicago Tribune

CHICAGO— It was so cold in Chicago Monday night that a 129-year-old record was broken and fire hydrants froze, causing problems for firefighters trying to put out a growing blaze in the South Side’s Back of the Yards neighborhood.

The temperature fell to 9 degrees Fahrenheit as firefighters put out the last flames. Around 11:20 p.m., more than two hours after it started, the fire department tweeted that the fire in the 4200 block of South Ashland Avenue had been struck out.

“Chicago's high of 12 degrees today broke a 129-year-old record for the coldest high temp ever on March 4,” according to a Monday night tweet by the weather service.

As the temperature slowly dropped, the fire department’s response was upgraded from a still-and-box alarm to a two-alarm, then a three-alarm.

Firefighters “did experience some frozen hydrants,” said Deputy District Chief Walter Schroeder. “That was one of the reasons why the alarm was escalated.”

When firefighters encounter a frozen hydrant, he said, “We go to the next hydrant.”

Though no injuries were reported, fire officials said four people were displaced from the 2 ½-story building — three children and an adult.

Monday had the coldest high temperature of any March 4 in Chicago since 1890, according to the National Weather Service. Monday’s high of 12 degrees was 5 degrees below the 17-degree high recorded that year. 

Copyright 2019 Chicago Tribune

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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