Fire destroys multiple businesses in East Tawas - WSFA.com: News Weather and Sports for Montgomery, AL.

Fire destroys multiple businesses in East Tawas

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EAST TAWAS, MI (WNEM) -

Fire crews battled a blaze at the Freel Law Office building on Newman and State streets in East Tawas.

Fire officials believe the fire was sparked by an electrical failure. It started at around 12:45 a.m. Tuesday morning.

"It's miserable, the fire was burning, everything's covered in ice," said a firefighter at the scene.

That ice was caused by the sub-freezing temperatures that crews had to deal with when fighting the fire.  It had an immediate effect.

"One of our trucks was frozen by the time we got here, but luckily we had enough we could put enough lines on one truck to fight the fire," said the fire chief.

You couldn't help but notice the way the frozen water coated everything around the burned-out building -- lamp posts, street signs and trees. Firefighters manning the ladder hose had to strap themselves onto the ladder so they wouldn't slide down the icy steps.

>>Click here to see photos of firefighters battling the blaze<<

Another situation fire crews have to be aware of in sub-zero temperatures is the pavement that has pure ice on top, making it very tough for them to find their footing.

Is it safe to say this is the worst type of conditions for you guys to fight a fire?  "By far, by far," said another firefighter. "The cold, everything's freezing up, you've got to leave the hoses running or it's going to tighten up on you and you won't be able to do anything with it."

Every fire department in Iosco County and one from Arenac County helped out the East Tawas fire department so that crew members could avoid hypothermia.  Upwards of 70 firefighters took turns getting out of the severe conditions.

"Oh, it's brutal. I mean you just have to take breaks, go in, get coffee, take your gloves off and thaw out a little bit," explained another firefighter.

Randy Brewer delivered free sandwiches to firefighters to warm them up and keep them going through the icy job.

"Oh, they were happier than heck," said Brewer.

The building is connected to the Chick-N-Dots children's clothing store, The Whitetail Cafe and a laudromat is also nearby. The area is about a block and a half north of U.S. 23.

Officials tell WNEM that both the Freel Law Office building and the Chick-N-Dots clothing store sustained extensive smoke and water damage. Witnesses said that the building that was on fire has collapsed.

No injuries were reported.

WNEM will continue to follow this story and will provide updates as new information comes into the newsroom.

Copyright 2013 WNEM (Meredith Corporation).  All rights reserved.

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