Firefighters endure high temps to battle Fayetteville blaze

FAYETTEVILLE (WTVD) -- A house fire in the 9200 block of Fork Road in Fayetteville early Monday afternoon led to a call for extra firefighters and engines so crews could keep from getting overheated.

"If you are not prepared physically and mentally, this weather can wear a firefighter down," said Fire Department Safety Educator Ronnie Willet.

It's especially tough when the heat index is over 100 degrees.

"I was in there close to 15 minutes, "said Fayetteville firefighter Richard Tabraham. "It was warm. I was sweating."

The extreme heat can make a firefighter's job even more difficult and dangerous. That's why on-scene commanders called for extra backup.

"The additional engine companies is to make provisions for firefighters who require additional rest because of the environment and fighting the fire in heat," said Willet. "It also helps commanders rotate personnel so there is less stress involved for the firefighters."

Firefighters said a window unit air conditioner apparently sparked an electrical fire that quickly spread through the wood-frame house. The first firefighters in the burning home said it felt like a super-heated oven.

"It was every bit of 1,000 degrees at the upper level," said Tabraham. "The ceiling in the house was low, so it kept all the heat down low."

The gear that helps protect firefighters can weigh up to 75-100 pounds. Tabraham said training helps firefighters recognize and deal with heat stress symptoms and staying hydrated.

"Taking care of your body and plenty of hydration, that's the key," Tabraham said. "That's something we take very seriously."

Luckily, no one was hurt fighting the blaze.

Firefighters say the home suffered extensive damage. The couple who lived in the house was not at home when the fire broke out.

The Red Cross is helping them find another place to stay.

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