House destroyed in fire

Cary Ashby • Jan 9, 2014 at 11:13 PM

Firefighters ended up fighting the cold and wind as much as they were attacking the house fire.

"You name it -- it was frozen," said Al McGinn, chief of the Townsend Township Volunteer Fire Department.

"We had frozen handlines; we had frozen nozzles," he added.

There were even massive icicles hanging off the backs of pumpers at 3702 DeRussey Road in Collins. The home was destroyed after a fire Monday night.

Townsend Township received mutual aid from the Norwalk, Berlin Heights and Wakeman fire departments. Nearly 40 total firefighters were at the scene at some point.

"They were all super," McGinn said.

Townsend Township received a call about the fire about 7:53 p.m. Monday and were on-scene 12 minutes later.

"We were there until about 2 o'clock in the morning," McGinn said.

A Townsend Angling Road resident said he saw fire trucks driving back and forth on DeRussey Road to retrieve water.

"Fire trucks were going up and down DeRussey, filling up at (the) fire hydrant at (the) corner of DeRussey Road and Carroll Road. (They made) many trips," said the Collins man, who declined to be further identified.

"It was the second house north of Vine Road on (the) east side of DeRussey Road," he said.

The Norwalk Fire Department responded with a tanker and at 7:51 p.m. The five-man crew was on the scene until 11:22, according to the report. Four firefighters returned to the DeRussey Road fire at 10:35 and were there for about 50 minutes.

The unidentified Collins family was home when the fire started at the wood stove in the basement.

"Yes, all the family got out. There were no injuries," McGinn said. "There were no casualties -- human or otherwise.

"I believe they were staying with relatives," the chief added.

Firefighters had the blaze under control about 1:15 a.m. Tuesday.

"I made the decision we were no longer attacking the fire. We went into fire-watch mode. We pretty much watched it burn," McGinn said.

Most of the time, the fire chief said the crew battled the effects of the frigid temperature -- the main reason firefighters had to stop battling the blaze.

"I think it was 41 degrees below zero with a wind chill," McGinn said. "Freezing temperatures and the wind didn't help."

McGinn recalled what he said was "a real battle" with Mother Nature.

"The valves on the tankers and pumpers were freezing up. Our pumpers were frozen. The hydrants were freezing up. We couldn't get water out of the hydrants," he said.

There was between $200,000 and $210,000 worth of damage to the structure and contents.

"It was a total loss," McGinn said.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

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