- Associated Press - Thursday, January 8, 2015

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) - Plummeting temperatures caused trouble across Ohio on Thursday.

A space heater being used to thaw frozen pipes was the likely cause of a barn fire that killed more than a dozen horses in northeastern Ohio, fire officials said.

“It just engulfed the building. It went up in a hurry,” said farm employee Tim Kelly. “By the time you saw it, the building was just full of smoke with flames just coming through the roof.”

With firefighters from the Akron suburb of Tallmadge and other departments hindered by temperatures hovering around 3 degrees, workers said they tried to save the horses.

“We went in, but you couldn’t see and you couldn’t breathe,” Kelly told the Akron Beacon Journal. “You could hear them, but we couldn’t get them out.”

The American Red Cross opened a shelter in suburban Toledo after 600 customers lost their natural gas service on Thursday. And several cities including Toledo and Cleveland opened warming shelters as state officials urged Ohioans to take preventive action against the cold.

Wind chill warnings were in effect across much of Ohio as arctic air continued to bear down on the state. Wind chills were far below zero and temperatures hovered in single digits through most of the day.

Hundreds of schools were closed because of the cold.

The Ohio Emergency Management Agency cautioned Ohioans to protect water pipes and check on neighbors and family members to make sure they have enough heat, food and water.

More snow and cold were in the forecast for Friday across the state.

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