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Firemen praise state trooper for assistance in freezing cold fire fight

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MADRID — A state trooper is being praised by a local volunteer fire department for his assistance in fighting a Madrid house fire in freezing temperatures Friday.

Madrid Volunteer Fire Chief Derek D. Kingston said the quick response of his men and the help of Trooper Robert E. Larrabee, who happened to be passing by a house fire at 2042 Route 310, kept the home from burning to the ground.

“Without the actions and assistance of Trooper Larrabee, we would have been looking at a structure that could have been completely destroyed,” Chief Kingston said. “He assisted with my firemen on the scene with initial set up and attack of the fire and we really appreciate him for his action.”

The cause of the fire is still under investigation by the St. Lawrence County Fire Investigation Team, but Chief Kingston said homeowner Carl Planty II also helped in containing the fire.

“He arrived home at approximately 3 p.m. when he heard the smoke alarms in the home going off,” Chief Kingston said. “Mr. Planty entered the home and found the fire contained to the bedroom and closed the bedroom door, helping to prevent the fire from spreading to the rest of the house.”

No one was home at the time the fire started and there was minor smoke and water damage done to the rest of the house, according to a report from the fire investigation team.

But this fire fight was exceptional, especially considering the weather was below freezing at 7 degrees, Chief Kingston added, because his men were able to locate the fire almost and swiftly knock it out.

“Definitely with colder weather we have problems with the truck pumps freezing up and draft sites, where we can suck water from the river, can be a hindrance because everything freezes up in these sub-zero temperatures,” Chief Kingston said.

Additionally, difficulties are found in working while wearing gloves, which get wet and freeze up, the chief said, and with expectation of more calls for fires caused by wood stoves and chimneys due to the colder temperature, fire fighters are rotated to keep them from being exposed to the harsh conditions on a call.

“We have a heated rescue truck and alternate them in and out and evaluate their conditions under these extreme conditions,” Chief Kingston said.

West Potsdam, Morley, Norfolk volunteer fire departments and Madrid Volunteer Rescue Squad also assisted on the call.

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