Plunging temperatures mean discomfort and danger rise

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DENVER -- Denver saw a low of 19 below zero Wednesday. And the high didn’t hover above zero.

These tumbling temperatures meant the discomfort and danger for people exposed to it rose.

The city of Denver so concerned about the safety of people at Southwest Ice Rink in Skyline Park closed it today.

A lot of us can quickly venture in and out of the deep freeze. But we found people today who have no choice.

It’s the kind of weather where equipment made for the cold won’t work.

“We’ve never had this much trouble with it, so it’s probably not designed to work at below 20 degrees,” says Lawrence McGary, about his snow blower that he had a hard time starting, and kept shutting down.

And, it’s the kind of weather where the weak whimper.

“I have no idea where my toes are. They existed this morning, I cannot verify or confirm I have toes,” says a man patiently waiting for the bus.

And, it’s the kind of weather where the hardy thrive.

“I’ve had people ask me you know I wouldn’t want to have your job today. My response, I wouldn’t want to have yours,” says bike messenger for Denver Boulder Couriers, Rob Engelberth.

He’ll bike for 10 hours today covering 30 miles in temperatures below zero.

His ice-crusted beard is a casualty of the cold.

“There’s enough beard to get all the ice and crud here and keep my skin warm,” he says.

Keeping warm was the objective of those out in the cruel cold.

Dressing in layers helps.

And for some, maybe the heat from their cigarettes is enough to forgo a coat.

It’s the heat from a house fire bringing Denver firefighters to Green Valley Ranch when it’s 7-below zero.

Besides water freezing on the ground, the cold creates other concerns.

“All the rigs are running. We’re concerned about keeping the diesels running, and the pumps to make sure our pumps don’t freeze up, so we keep the water cycling,” says assistant fire chief Tim Lynch.

He says firefighters will stay at the fire scene for three hours out in the elements, so arson investigators can do their job, then to make sure the fire doesn’t flare up.

SkyWest Rink reopens tomorrow when temperatures rebound into the teens.


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