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2 battles for first responders today: Fire and dangerous weather

Middletown firefighters and police officers fought two battles Tuesday morning: A house fire at 1113 Young St. and the dangerous winter weather.

Temperatures were near 5 degrees as firefighters fought a second-floor fire in a duplex. The temperatures and icy conditions made a “tough job tougher,” said Middletown Deputy Fire Chief David Adams.

Later, he added: “The extreme cold temperatures certainly made fighting this fire a little bit tougher.”

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He said one firehose froze and an emergency vehicle was on scene so firefighters had a place to get warm if necessary.

After about 20 minutes, the fire was extinguished, though firefighters were on scene for about 90 minutes, Adams said. The water from the Middletown hoses quickly froze on the street and firefighters and police officers were seen walking cautiously in the area.

Adams said three residents live in the duplex, but none was home at the time of the fire. He said the American Red Cross was called to assist the residents.

The cause of the fire is under investigation, he said.

When firefighters arrived around 9:30 a.m., they saw “heavy fire” coming from the second floor of the residence, Adams said.

Steven Piersall, 33, of Middletown, said he was driving in the neighborhood when he saw “a bunch of black smoke” coming from the residence. He quickly pulled his car off the road and ran to the front door. He heard women screaming and called 911 to report someone may be trapped inside the burning home. He said his wife told him to stand back from the front door.

“When you hear somebody scream you never know,” he said. “People could be inside.”

Instead, he learned later, the screams were coming from neighbors who also saw the home on fire. Piersall tried to knock the front door down, but was unable, he said.

He said the front room was “fully engulfed in flames” when he arrived. When two police officers knocked the door down, several dogs, all smelling of smoke and wheezing, ran out of the residence, he said. Several dogs, cats and a rabbit were unharmed in the fire, Adams said.

Piersall put some of the dogs in his car to protect them from the freezing temperatures.

Two dogs were leashed and led by two Middletown police officers to the Butler County Dog Warden van.

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