Woolmarket neighbors wonder why hydrant didn't work during fire

By Trang Pham-Bui - bio | email

HARRISON COUNTY, MS  (WLOX) - On Thursday afternoon, Harrison County firefighters tried to douse the hot spots at a house on East Shadow Creek Drive in Woolmarket.  The house burst into flames around 5:15 AM.

"There was approximately two people in the house, and they both got out of the house okay," said Harrison County Fire Marshal George Mixon.  "As it stands right now, we're unable to account for the pet. The dog is missing."

The fire marshal says when firefighters arrived, and tried to use the closest hydrant, it didn't work.  A second hydrant down the street was out of the way.  So they had to bring in water to put out the blaze.

"Not having the water caused a delay in getting the water onto the structure," said Mixon.

"I was pretty panicked. I was shaking because we were so close," said Nicole Noel, who lives two doors down from the burnt house.

Noel is one of many neighbors who questioned why the hydrant didn't come on.

"It concerns me and it's something I may want to address now that things have calmed down, just to make sure we're going to be okay if ever it were to happen to us," said Noel.

The hydrant is owned by Superior Utilities of Woolmarket.  The owner, Ronnie Plummer, did not want to be interviewed on camera.  He showed WLOX News that the hydrant did have water, but he said the valve wasn't opened at the time.  Plummer says his company periodically checks the hydrants to make sure they're working, and firefighters conduct their own tests as a courtesy.  But he says this particular hydrant was overlooked.

"It's going to go on to the private utility company.  They own the fire hydrants, so it's ultimately their responsibility," said Mixon. "I don't believe that it would have made any real difference in it, because there was so much fire and so much heat that we really couldn't have saved any more than we could do."

The owner of Superior Utilities says he checked all the hydrants in the subdivision after the fire, and they are all working properly. He added that the hydrants are mainly used to flush out the neighborhood's water lines.   They're not designed for firefighting, because the tank is too small and the pressure is too low.

The house is a loss, but everyone is thankful the homeowner Dean Martell and his child got out safely.  The fire marshal says the fire started in the attic and an early investigation indicated that a lightning strike may have been the cause.

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