Faulty Hydrant at 39th Street Fire Causes Concerns - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

03/02/05

Faulty Hydrant at 39th Street Fire Causes Concerns

The investigation continues into a fire which destroyed a home on Savannah's west side and damaged two others. It happened on West 39th Street, near Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard.

One thing that made a bad situation worse is that, when firefighters started trying to fight the fire, one of the hydrants didn't work. WTOC spoke with city officials about the problem.

Even though it didn't really cause a problem for firefighters, it does raise the question of whether other hydrants in the city are working properly.

When firefighters have to battle fast moving flames, the last thing they need is a fire hydrant that isn't working. Neither do residents living close by.

"They had to go down one block this way and one block that way just to put the fire out," neighbor Oceana Gilchrist recalled.

Living two houses from the fire, Gilchrist saw what firefighters had to contend with and waited in fear as they left to find other hydrants.

"Look at all the damage it did," she said. "It went from one house to the other. Of course I'm afraid. Suppose another house catches on fire and there's no hydrant there."

But according to city officials, fire hydrants are inspected annually, monitored 24/7, and are fixed immediately if they are faulty.

But what happened to this hydrant is a mystery. "We wish we knew what happened out there," said Harry Jue with the city's water and sewer department. "It could have been a number of things."

They also say the problem arose after the fire started, and with all the smoke, it's possible it could have been hit before the firefighters hooked their hoses to it.

While there was a slight delay in getting water, fire officials say it didn't delay putting out the fire. "We had water constantly, but it just caused a drop in water pressure," said Asst. Chief Steve Miller.

After it was reported this fire hydrant wasn't working, a new one was put in its place, and according to city officials, worrying about the one next to your house isn't something you should bother with.

"I think they can rest assured they got a jam-up fire department and a good water system that can react to these problems, if we run across a particular hydrant that we have a problem with," said Jue.

The City of Savannah's water department has a 24 hour hotline number, so if you have any concerns about the fire hydrant near your home, call 351.3434.

Reported by: Nicole Teigen, nteigen@wtoc.com

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