Gulfport working to fix hydrants near scene of fatal fire - - The News for South Mississippi

Gulfport working to fix hydrants near scene of fatal fire


By A.J. Giardina – bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Three months after a fatal fire took the lives of an elderly Gulfport couple, the streets in their neighborhood still have few working fire hydrants. But the Gulfport councilman who represents that neighborhood promises that's about to change.

James Dennis, 74, and Patricia Dennis, 64, died in February when their home on South Pine Street in Oakleigh Manor Subdivision burned. The night of the fire, neighbor Donald McCorvey was one of the first ones at the scene. McCorvey said that when firefighters arrived, they couldn't find a working hydrant nearby.

"I asked to see if I could help or anything, see what I could do. Went down the street to look for a fire hydrant, couldn't find one," McCorvey said.

The nearest hydrant to the fire location was three blocks away. The fire department relied on tanker trucks filled with water to put out the fire.

Residents of the Oakliegh Manor Subdivision told WLOX news, until this fatal fire, they didn't realize there were such few hydrants in their subdivision. Gerl Johnson, who lives nearby, is worried.

"Who wants to live somewhere that you don't have adequate fire protection? It makes me very uneasy. Something needs to be done about it, soon," Johnson said.

Ewea Thompson agreed, "I'm concerned. I wish they would do something about it."

Gulfport Councilman R. Lee Flowers said Gulfport City engineers are examining the water lines in the subdivision, so working hydrants can be installed.

Neighborhood residents also claim there weren't enough firefighters on the first truck that responded to the February fire that killed the couple. Neighbor Brian Dace told WLOX news only two firefighters were on the first truck to arrive.

Councilman Flowers confirmed only two firefighters were on the first truck that night. He blamed city budget cuts.

"We have since rectified that problem throughout the city. We will have three or more guys on a truck. That will enable the firefighters to do everything that their standard operating procedures would require," Flowers said.

Until new fire hydrants are installed in Oakleigh Manor Subdivision, tanker trucks will continue fill the protection gap to insure safety with the residents.

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