(NECN: Katelyn Tivnan) - Wearing nothing but the shirt he had on, William Miller walks back towards the smoke coming from his smoldering Charlton, Mass. home.
He and his family were inside Wednesday morning when they noticed a fire in the attic of their historic farmhouse, and jumped into action.
"We attempted to use the hose and at grabbed the fire extinguisher, but it was too late by the time we noticed," Miller says.
The fire inside the 1830s farmhouse kept spreading. Miller and his family were able to get out safely and use their cell phones to call for help. Crews responded to heavy smoke and flames coming from the J. Hammond Road home just after 10 a.m. But the fire proved difficult to put out.
"The fire itself is in a lot of void spaces in homes like this. The fire will fall down to the basement and then push back up to the first and second floors," Charlton Fire Chief Charles Cloutier says.
The extreme cold forced firefighters to strike a fourth alarm. After more than an hour on the job some firefighters were covered in ice from head to toe. Chief Cloutier says water was turning to ice as soon as it hit the ground.
"We did strike a fourth alarm because it is so much more difficult for firefighters to work, slipping conditions are prevalent and more dangerous for us so not sure the temperature out now but it's cold," he says.
Miller and his family are thankful they were able to make it out safely, but he says it is sad to see the damage to the home he says has been in his family for generations.
"Everything I had was in there. I didn't grab much, just have what's in my pockets now," he says.