By Tracey Leong

COLUMBIA, Md. (WJZ) — It’s not just the flames firefighters had to battle at the scene of a house fire in Howard County, it was also the brutal conditions.

Tracey Leong explains how the weather created an extra challenge.

The bitter cold added another layer of difficulty for firefighters. From high winds to the low temperatures, it was challenging to get the blaze contained.

Crews battled a fire that devoured a townhome on Ring Dove Lane in Columbia. A family of six lost their home. Three members inside at the time were able to escape safely with their two dogs.

The flames consumed the home in less than an hour.

The blaze wasn’t the only challenge for firefighters. Well below freezing conditions made frostbite a big concern.

Fire and rescue set up a rehab unit to protect crews.

“To be able to move crews in and out of the operation a little bit quicker than what we typically do, to make sure they are able to be put in a place where they are getting warm and being able to get back out there,” Jackie Kotei, Howard County Fire and Rescue.

The high winds carried the flames to another unit next door, upgrading it to a three-alarm fire.

The frigid temperatures made it difficult for firefighters to get a good water supply to battle the blaze.

“Making sure that we have access to pipes that aren’t frozen, that our hose lines are able to actually carry water to the structure,” said Kotei.

Neighbors were evacuated as a precaution.

Officials say now is the perfect time to remind people to be extra careful in this weather, especially when trying to stay warm.

“That they have a heating source and that it’s away from things that can ignite and that they’re really taking some precautions,” said Kotei.

One firefighter suffered minor injuries. The displaced family is being helped by the Red Cross.

Crews are investigating what caused the blaze.

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