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Avoiding Disastrous Fires With Few Minutes Of Shoveling

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(credit: CBS) Liz Collin
At 15 years old, Liz Collin made her broadcast debut covering...
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By Liz Collin, WCCO-TV

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minneapolis Public Works is looking into whether a fire hydrant that didn’t work for firefighters battling a fire was frozen.

The vacant home caught fire near the intersection of Queens Avenue and 21st in North Minneapolis. One nearby fire hydrant didn’t work so the firefighters moved on to other nearby hydrants that did. Much of the house was destroyed.

Whether that hydrant was frozen or not, it’s a reminder of that all hydrants need to be cleared. 

Minneapolis firefighters explain how hard this winter has been to battle. Beyond the messy streets and mounds of snow, one of the tools firefighters need most can barely be seen.

A computer shows fire crews where hydrants should be, though there’s still a lot of guess work involved since the snow covers many hydrants.

Captain Jeff Westall said when firefighters have to shovel them out they’re already one step behind.

“I think it takes them several minutes,” Westall said.

Crews want about three feet around each hydrant so they can make the 13 turns they need to get the water out.

“We are getting less water through a kinked hose, we need the maximum amount of the water we can get,” Westall said.

When hydrants are encased in snow for such a long time it can also be a problem for firefighters. The inside of the hydrant can easily have damage and then water doesn’t flow as freely as it should.

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