Fire crews battle a house fire in freezing conditions



BUFFALO CENTER, Iowa – A house fire that started at a home near the north Iowa Community Schools burned the house to the ground.

The blaze kept fire crews on scene all night and day, and is leaving a family, without a home.

It happened on 2nd Street NW around 8pm Thursday night. Crews were called there after reports came in of a glow in the windows.

Crews were on scene until about 10:30 Friday morning.

Firefighters say it was a difficult fire to fight and even caused a school just across the street to delay its start time.

It’s been an exhausting day for fire crews as they work to put out a fire that’s been burning for more than 14 hours.

“We ended up not being able to get to the fire fast enough it actually had ripped through some of the floors so for safety purposes we’re not able to make entry where we needed to so we went ahead and went defensive to protect the houses on the side and the church behind it,” says Chief Brian Blodgett with the Buffalo Center Fire Department.

Everyone in the home made it out safely but there was another concern the fire Chief needed to deal with.

Because of strong winds blowing the smoke in the direction of the school, the fire department coordinated with school officials to make the decision to delay school by 2 hours.

“The smoke was definitely blowing across the school and so of course with concerns of asthma and other breathing conditions at school, why risk it? So we wanted to get it knocked out and taken care of,” adds Blodgett.

“The smoke was an issue for us and as well the smoke was getting into our ventilation system, we collect cold air through our return system into the school and that was circulation the smoke into our building,” says North Iowa Schools Superintendent, Cory Myer.

Myer says delaying the start time gave the school time to circulate fresh air into the building.

“We felt very comfortable with the 2 hour delay to run our kids then on schedule,” he said.

Chief Blodgett says cooperation of the community helped calm this chaotic morning.

“We had a ton of people that helped out, several community members helped out so something like this requires a community to come together and definitely saw that today.”

At this time fire officials are still investigating what caused that fire.

Because of the sub-zero weather, the water was freezing quickly, making things very difficult for those crews.

We spoke with a few firefighters who said the extreme cold makes things even more dangerous than they already are.

They say they tend to fatigue easier and of course keeping themselves warm is a challenge.

As you can see in the video everything is covered in ice including the firefighters.

They tell me worked on a rotating shift system to keep everyone safe.

“The guys were going back to the fire house getting coffee, something warm to eat, taking 10-15 minutes to try and warm up get some dry gloves and come back out,” says Troy Vaubt with the Buffalo Center Fire Department.

A janitor from the north Iowa Community School district brought over a school bus for the crews to sit in during breaks.

The Buffalo Center Fire Department was assisted by neighboring fire departments, Rake and Thompson.

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