Atlanta firefighters resorted to warming their hands on the exhaust from an engine tail pipe after a fire broke out Thursday morning at a vacant apartment building.

No one was inside the building as it burned before dawn and temperatures hovered near the freezing point. The fire was at least the second in the past two years at the complex in the 2900 block of Third Avenue, just east of Metropolitan Parkway, according to fire Capt. Jeff Asher.

“We do the best we can, try to stay as warm as we can and get the fire knocked out as quickly as possible so we can get back to the station,” Asher told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Crews arriving at the complex found fire had already consumed the top floor of one of the buildings, and the roof had burned off. They settled into a defensive position outside to knock down the flames before making a preliminary search, Asher said.

“We did do a search because with the weather changing, getting colder, we wanted to make sure that nobody was in here (who) possibly started a fire trying to keep warm,” he said. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Once most of the flames were out, the crews moved back outside to spray hot spots. They tried to stay warm while monitoring for any flare-ups. Thankfully, Asher said, it wasn’t quite cold enough to freeze the water on their gear, which usually means “you are walking around like a big icicle.”

The captain said on cold mornings his crew layers up and brings extra changes of clothes to shed wet gear quickly.

“We endure the weather just like everybody else,” he said. “You’re going to get wet and you’re going to get cold.”