DULUTH (AP) -- When firefighters responded to a blaze at a Duluth business last week, they found two of the seven hydrants nearby didn't work.

It's not an isolated problem. One assistant fire chief reports that up to a fifth of the city's hydrants don't work in the winter due to the cold.

Local firefighters downplay the problem, noting that most fires are extinguished with the water contained in their trucks.

But Kris Kell of Indianapolis, a firefighter who runs a business maintaining hydrants, says 20 percent is too high for safety because it takes too long for fire trucks to drive to the next working hydrant.

The hydrants are designed to work in the cold, but sometimes water gets into them and freezes them up anyway.

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