Winter weather wreaks havoc on first responders

WINSTON COUNTY      - Snow and ice in the second round of winter weather to hit the state this  week have wreaked havoc on emergency first responders, causing slippery road conditions which hindered access to scenes.
Lynn fire officials were battling Mother Nature’s winter fury Wednesday night, when they were responding to a one-vehicle accident also caused by icy road conditions.
“That mother and that (toddler) were blessed  by the grace of God, because people behind them got them out of the car, because it caught fire shortly after the people got them out,” pointed out Lynn Assistant Fire Chief Derreck Cagle.
“The car was fully involved when we got there,” Cagle stressed. “It was fully engulfed in flames.”
The mother and her toddler were traveling in a vehicle on Highway 13 toward Haleyville, when the vehicle hit an icy spot on Sawmill Hill, causing the car to leave the roadway, go down steep embankment and hit a tree on the passenger’s side of the vehicle, Cagle said.
An older couple traveling in a vehicle behind them witnessed the accident and stopped to provide assistance, being able to remove both the mother and her toddler-age child from the car, first responders said. 
They had made it away from the car,  and to the top of the hill, when the vehicle  burst into flames, emergency first responders said.
The mother suffered a head injury, with the toddler, who was in a car seat in the back seat, experiencing lacerations, Cagle noted.
“It was simply by the grace of God that we didn’t work a fatality wreck last night,” Cagle said Thursday morning.
The older couple, that witnessed the accident and stopped to help, were termed by Cagle as Good Samaritans
“I was going down the hill, and I have a four-wheel-drive truck. I had to get into four high (gear) in order to mitigate that ice,” Cagle said about responding to the scene.
The firetrucks encountered the same icy road conditions as firefighters were in driving their own personal vehicles to the scene, they said.
“We were slipping and sliding everywhere,” said Cagle. 
“Everything was such a mess last night. We couldn’t get an ambulance to us.”
A medic from the fire department was sent in a four-wheel-drive to transport the injured mother and child about a quarter of a mile to the top of a hill to meet with Regional Paramedical Service ambulance which could not make the hill, authorities said.
The ambulance was positioned on Highway 13 at the top of the hill near the Natural Bridge Stockyards. The ambulance transported the injured from there to Walker Baptist Medical Center in Jasper, Cagle said.
Slippery conditions were reported on Highway 5 traveling to Jasper from Natural Bridge, as well as on Interstate 22, which is accessed from Highway 13, authorities said.
Dispatch advised RPS to use Highway 13 to I-22. “They knew it was closed, but that was the only way to get there at that point,” Cagle said. “(Highway) 5 was in worse condition than I-22.”
At the crash site, firefighters applied about three gallons of foam to suppress the fire, as well as about 350 gallons of water to extinguish the blaze, according to Cagle.
Delmar Fire Department assisted at the wreck scene by detouring any traffic on Highway 13 at County Road 17, with other units on the top of the hill near the stockyards, Cagle indicated.
Cagle noted the icy conditions definitely hindered response time of emergency vehicles.
“That goes back to those folks, those good Samaritans that were there,” Cagle pointed out. “They got them away from the vehicle before it burst into flames. It could have been a lot worse. It could have been a terrible situation.”
The burned car could not be towed out of the ravine Wednesday night, due to winter weather conditions, so efforts were to remove it later using Lyle’s Wrecker Service of Haleyville, Cagle said.
Addison firefighters face dangerous 
conditions on shed fire call
“The biggest problem obviously was the roads,” stressed Lt. Brent Porter of the Addison Fire Department. “We weren’t able to get our larger trucks out of the station.”
The wintry weather conditions meant the department, rather, had to respond with their two brush trucks to the shed fire call at Rock Creek Circle, where 10 goats perished but two were rescued by their owner, fire officials said.
The call came in around 8 p.m. Wednesday, while heavy snow was coming down throughout Winston County.
“There was close to three inches on the road,” Porter said. “Our brush trucks are four-wheel-drive and they just maneuver better on slick roads.”
The fire destroyed a tin 20X20 shed that was closed to the residence, Porter said.
Firefighters believed that a heat lamp was the source of the fire, that resulted in the death of the 10 goats, which were the only animals being kept inside the building, according to Porter.
“(The owner) managed to get two of the goats out, but the rest of them would not come out,” said Porter. “It was too hot for him to go back in and get them out.”
Firefighters did not face any winter weather problems while on the scene. “The only problem was, because we couldn’t take our large trucks, we didn’t have a whole lot of water,” said Porter.
“So our primary objective was to keep the house from catching on fire. The (shed) building was pretty much gone when we got there.”
The carport attached to the residence had already started burning when firefighters arrived, Porter said. 
The water capacity that Addison brought in their brush trucks was enough to keep the carport sprayed down until the barn had burned down to the point it was not releasing much heat, firefighters on the scene said.
The outside temperatures were not cold enough to freeze any water being applied by firefighters, they said.
“The only issue we really had on the scene was the fact the carport was wet and it had turned to ice,” said Porter.




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