(ST. LOUIS) KMOV - Seven people, including two children, are without a home Thursday after a fire in the Shaw neighborhood where a nearby fire hydrant was not working properly.
St. Louis Fire Department Capt. Garon Mosby says the closest hydrant was ineffective as they worked to battle the two-alarm fire, saying it might have changed the result of the fire. It took 60 firefighters to put out the fire at the two story brick building. The fire starting in the basement. Investigators still work to determine a cause.
“I saw my neighbor out here with a hose trying to put his corner left basement out,” said neighbor Robert McKinnis.
When the fire trucks arrived, they went to the nearest hydrant at 39th and Detonty, but Capt. Mosby says it was ineffective.
“What that means is were not getting enough water or pressure from a plug which makes fighting the fire very challenging,” said Capt. Mosby.
Firefighters had a limited amount of water in the truck but had to go down Detonty to the next hydrant as well as using another hydrant, both of which the on the other side of I-44 from the house.
“It was about 20-25 minutes,” McKinnis said describing how long it took before firefighters were able to get ample water on the home.
The St. Louis Water Department said the problem was isolated.
“We didn't have any issues with our distribution system as a whole. We had adequate pressure and flow through the system, it seemed to be localized to the hydrant,” explained Curt Skouby, Director of Public Utilities for the City of St. Louis.
Skouby said each hydrant is checked at least twice a year.
“Until you use them, that’s when you find out if there's a problem,” Skouby said. “It's like your car, it functioned when you stopped at the curb last night but when you go out this morning it doesn’t work,” explained Skouby. “You have older infrastructure you’re going to have more issues with it, you come back and repair it and replace it as needed.”
Mosby says it’s not common for firefighters to encounter ineffective hydrants, saying it does happen from time to time. Mosby said it happens to older hydrants.
Skouby says his team will go out Thursday night or first thing Friday to find out exactly what went wrong with the hydrant to ensure it is working in the future.