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Disabled fire hydrant causes delay for firefighters

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Updated: 10/28/2013 12:31 pm
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A disabled fire hydrant on Kelsey Island Drive on the Southside forced a delay for firefighters as they tried to douse a house fire.

According to the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department, the fire broke out around 5 a.m. Saturday.

Neighbor Beri Frohman said the fire was so loud it woke her up.

"I was woken up really scared. It sounded like multiple gunshots. I didn't know what it was," Frohman said.

JFRD said it’s possible the fire started in the garage and spread to the rest of the home. It even gutted two cars parked on the driveway.

The fire hydrant closest to the house wasn’t working so firefighters were forced to run a hose to one at the other end of the block, adding extra time to their efforts to put the fire out.

Neighbor Jacqui Rivera worries there may be other fire hydrants that are not functioning in her neighborhood.

"I'm like, 'Man what if I needed it, what if anybody else needed it and it's not working? I think they could've saved that house if that fire hydrant was working," Rivera said.

Action News found out the independent valve to the fire hydrant was turned off. According to JEA spokesperson Gerri Boyce, there are several reasons why that may have happened.

"A contractor could've turned the valve off. Different companies have meters to use fire hydrants and they could've turned that off. In some cases, unfortunately, we know of people who have taken water from hydrants and they could've turned it off," Boyce said.

Boyce said there is no way to know who turned the valve off. She said JEA services 18,000 fire hydrants throughout the city but JFRD is responsible for regularly checking them.

"We went back this morning and looked at the records, and we do not currently have any tickets on this hydrant nor have we had any tickets prior to today on that hydrant," Boyce said.

According to the State Fire Marshal, the delay in hooking up hoses had "no degree of impact in the outcome."

The couple who lived in the home are safe and staying at a local hotel. Their dog is being cared for by a neighbor.

JEA said that now that it knows there is an issue, it will make sure the valve is turned back on this weekend.

If you want to know when was the last time the fire hydrants in your neighborhood were inspected, call JFRD.
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