Firefighters of the Casper Fire-EMS Department, along with other first responders including Casper police officers and Natrona County Sheriff's deputies, endured wind chill values which pushed the temperature well below zero degrees as they responded to two structure fires on Wednesday.

The first fire, reported shortly before noon, was at a home in the 400 Block of North Melrose. Firefighters were able to knock down the flames within 15 minutes and contain the blaze in the basement.

Then, just before 2 p.m., a shop caught fire and became fully involved near the intersection of Bryan Stock Trail and Metro Road. Initial reports indicated that gas was leaking and power lines were down as a result of the blaze.

Captain Jason Speiser told K2 Radio News that firefighters, who had been clearing the previous fire nearby, were able to respond before the second fire was reported via 911.

Dane Andersen, firefighter and public information officer for the Casper Fire-EMS Department, said firefighters arrived to find a 20x40 ft. shop ablaze.

"The roof was collapsing. We had collapsing power lines, venting gas that was on fire from vehicles and different sizes of propane and different gas bottles inside the structure," Andersen told reporters after the blaze was contained. "Entry into the shop was determined to be unsafe for firefighters."

Andersen said firefighters decided to get above the flames and drown them. Mop-up was underway and an inspector was beginning to investigate the cause when Andersen spoke to reporters.

No injuries were reported in connection with the blaze. The Natrona County Fire Protection District and Evansville Fire Department also worked to fight the fire. Temperatures hovered in the range of zero degrees Fahrenheit, but none of the first responders shrunk from the task.

"We're just all really cold and frozen, along with all of our gear," Andersen added.

Without speculating as to the cause of either blaze, Andersen reminded people to use caution with heating devices, which of course are more widely used when the temperature drops so low.

"We know you're trying to heat your homes, we know you're trying to stay warm -- we are, too," Andersen said. "Let's be careful with that stuff, and give us a chance to get our gear thawed before we go to the next one."

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