Saturday was a busy day for the Tomah Fire Department.

Volunteer firefighters responded to four calls on a frigid day during which the high temperature struggled to get past zero.

Tomah Fire Chief Tim Adler said his department responded to a residential fire at 520 McCaul St. shortly after 2:30 p.m. He said the fire was contained within an hour and that firefighters remained at the scene for three hours performing overhaul. The home was unoccupied at the time, but the fire left the home uninhabitable due to smoke and water damage.

Five people were displaced by the fire and are being assisted by the American Red Cross.

Adler said 24 firefighters were at the scene and one suffered a minor injury.

“Due to the extreme cold temperatures, it makes fighting a fire much more difficult,” Adler said. “You always have the concerns of, number-one, your people, and then the trucks and equipment also have issues with freezing up when you are flowing water, especially when you have wind-chill temperatures of minus-25 degrees like we did.”

The fire department was assisted at the scene by the Tomah Police Department, Tomah Water Department and Tomah Area Ambulance Service. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

The first two calls came in the morning, when unattended cooking incidents forced firefighters to ventilate smoke from the buildings.

The final call came shortly before 11:30 p.m. after a report of a natural gas leak at a single-family residence. Adler said cold temperatures triggered a malfunction with a gas meter and caused a leak. The department remained on scene for nearly an hour.

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Tomah Journal editor

Steve Rundio is editor of the Tomah Journal. Contact him at 608-374-7785.

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