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Firefighters face difficult conditions in freezing temps as calls increase

RICHMOND, Va. – Sha Styles was sleeping into the New Year when he awoke to a porch fire in the apartment below.

"As soon as I saw smoke, I was out of there,” he said.

A Richmond Police Department officer was able to knock down the initial fire with a fire extinguisher.

Then it took five Richmond engines to finish it off, in the bitterly cold temperatures.

"It's difficult working in the cold, especially when you are dealing with water,” said Captain Mark Wagner with Richmond fire. He said fire crews across the region will also have to battle the extreme cold temperatures Monday.

"Even though our gear is somewhat water proof, we get very wet inside this gear,” Wagner said. “Things start freezing.”

Overnight house fire in Chester

An early morning house fire in Chester displaced three people and sent one to the hospital for smoke inhalation.

The cold temperatures impacted the firefighter response. Chesterfield crews used a foam instead of water to counter freezing conditions.

Captain Wagner said cold weather usually means more calls for firefighters.

"Just because heating systems are working overload to try and catch up the heat,” Wagner said.

The first day of 2018 certainly brought Styles an appreciation for these first responders.

"I couldn't do it,” he exclaimed. “I couldn't do it!”