When it's close to 20 below zero, the last thing anyone would want is to be drenched with water while fighting a fire.

Personnel from Missoula Rural Fire, the Missoula Fire Department and Frenchtown Fire all responded on Thursday morning to a blaze at Roseburg Forest Products on Razer Drive. Battalion Chief Blaine Cowan said the call came in just after 9:30 a.m.

"There's one particular spot they call the pre-dry that's is essentially a dust collection system for their production line, and it requires water to continually cool and flush that system," Cowan began. "It sounds like the external pipes and water system froze up, allowed a part of the system to get too warm and some of that particulate matter ignited. When we arrived there was smoke and flames visible from that structure."

Cowan said several agencies responded to the alarm.

"We responded, and Missoula City Fire brought their ladder truck, and we needed that so we could reach up high there," he said. "Frenchtown Fire also sent personnel, but we cancelled them soon after they arrived.There were about 15 firefighters there and there were two EMS folks from Missoula Emergency Services with an ambulance, though no one was injured."

Cowan said battling a blaze in temperatures at 20 below zero can be extremely dangerous for firefighters.

"Fortunately, with our turn-outs (the apparel and equipment they wear) they just about cover every inch of skin anyway, but, while we're flowing water it never fails, you always end up getting splashed back and pretty soon the clothing that you're wearing is just covered in one sheet of ice," he said. "We always keep several spare sets of gloves, but specifically, for those are are directly fighting the fire, they try to stay as dry as they can. If they do get drenched, they have some rehabilitation time to get into the warm cab of a fire truck."

There was no estimate of damage from the fire, which took approximately three hours to bring under control. Cowan said they cleared the scene just after noon.


More From Newstalk KGVO 1290 AM & 98.3 FM