WAUSAU PILOT AND REVIEW — More than 50 volunteers responded to a call by the Merrill Fire Department to help dig out snow-buried fire hydrants in the city over the weekend.

Nearly 100 hydrants were uncovered March 3 and 4, according to Merrill Fire Chief Josh Klug.

Fire personnel identified hydrants using maps and metal detectors before the weekend shoveling event. Volunteers showed up with shovels in hand and were sent out with fire personnel in teams of between four and six people.

Volunteers wore safety vests as they shoveled hydrants out near snow-covered intersection and were kept safe from passing motorists by fire personnel using emergency lights, cones and fire apparatus.

Volunteer groups included Merrill Youth Hockey (Pee Wee’s), Boy Scout Troop 513, many concerned citizens and a family of six whose members didn’t even live in Merrill, Klug said, in a news release. Fire personnel also noticed a number of community residents who were out on their own over the weekend clearing hydrants as well.

“It was great to see,” said Battalion Chief Steve Hintze.

Work will continue in an effort to locate more hydrants in the coming days as not all buried hydrants had been located by the time volunteers arrived.

Crews are hopeful that the number of hydrants uncovered and the pattern of their location will give them a fighting chance to use a hydrant should the need arise. They’re also asking residents to clean out buried hydrants or call the fire station with the hydrant’s location.

The Merrill Fire Department is expressing their thanks for the outpouring of community support in this effort.

Photo: Courtesy of the Merrill Fire Department