By Lisa Gresci

WORCESTER (CBS) – Worcester firefighters were “completely crusted in ice” battling a fire that destroyed a triple decker home on William Street Friday morning.

They were rushed to the house around 7:30 a.m. and it was filled with smoke once they arrived.

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“We initially went up to the second and third floors, where the smoke was presenting,” said Deputy Fire Chief Martin Dyer. “But the fire was already in all the void spaces, so it actually broke out on the first floor and then on the second floor stairwell quickly, putting fire below the firefighters operating above.”

Crews battling the smoke and fire coming from the three-story home in Worcester on Friday morning. (WBZ-TV)

Dyer explained that the firefighters then moved to the second floor and began pulling the walls and ceiling to try to access the fire. But then, the fire overtook most of the second and third floors.

“We took the firefighters out to make sure they remained safe,” Dyer said. “It was very tough operation because the fire was already in the walls, already in the ceilings. We were not able to fight it on the inside, so we’re asked to pull it out from the outside and work our way in.”

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A heated bus was brought in to help the firefighters warm up in between shifts.

“With this cold weather, the water just turns into ice so quickly,” he said. “The water is just falling down off the house onto them, so they’re getting completely encrusted in ice.”

Greg Hevey, the owner of the building, was just thankful no one was hurt.

“The first question out of my mind was, ‘Was everybody out safe?'” said Hevey. “Once I realized the building was engulfed, that answer was yes, thank God.”

The house, which had at least seven apartments, has been condemned.

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There’s no word yet on how or where the fire started.

Lisa Gresci