CBS47 Investigates: Why did fire hydrant not work at a house fire? Are they inspected?


Residents living near a northeast Fresno home, which caught fire on Monday night, are now questioning why the nearest fire hydrant didn’t work?

The 3-alarm blaze broke out at Eessex and Millbrook in the northeast area of the city.

More than 40 fire fighters from Fresno city, county and Clovis prevented the fire from spreading to nearby homes.

But the home was a total loss.

Residents want to know when was the last time the hydrant was checked?

Neighbor Teresa Gulesserian says, “It was a shock to us. That 15 minutes of not having water on the house, we watched it spread and it was devastating.”

Gulesserian is now allowing the fire victims to stay with them at their home.

She says she couldn’t believe it when fire fighters said the hydrant outside her home was broke.

“When we saw the frustration of the fire workers trying to use the fire hydrant that was unusable, it caused all the neighbors to be concerned are we all at risk,” says Gulesserian.

The Fresno Fire Department says no ones at risk!

Deputy Chief Ted Semonious says last year all 17,000 fire hydrants in the city and contracted areas protected by Fresno fire were inspected.

So why then, did hydrant 606 fail?

Deputy Chief Semonious says, “The failure point on that particular hydrant, I’m not quite sure, but we know it was below grade. They haven’t taken it out and looked at it yet. Generally there is stem that goes down to the valve and when they went to open the hydrant that stem broke. Very uncommon for that to happen, I can’t recall the last time we went to a fire and broke a hydrant and I’ve been on the job for 28 years.”

Semonious said this hydrant was checked last spring and he calls it a fluke.

Records obtained by CBS47 show right now some 50 hydrants of the 17,000 are not working.

But fire fighters say they know where they’re located, and they’re automatically reported to the City of Fresno Water Department.

City staff told CBS47 the turn around time to fix a hydrant is about two to three weeks.

Unless it must be replaced then it could be longer.

Simonious says even if a hydrant is broken, another hydrant is less than 650 feet away in most neighborhoods.

However the next hydrant available in the most recent fire was some 700 feet away.

Fire fighters say because the fire was in the attic it made it difficult to fight and would not have made a difference.

Fire fighters want residents to keep a 3-foot clearance around all fire hydrants.

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