Air Force era hydrants didn't help pallet fire -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Air Force era hydrants didn't help pallet fire

By Karen Cohilas - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) –  There are approximately 5,000 fire hydrants in Dougherty County. The Albany Fire Department checks each to make sure they are functional once a year.

But some are so old, like those near the former Turner Air Field that firefighters didn't even know they existed. When they arrived on the scene, two of the hydrants were dry, and were useless to firefighters.

Lamar Houston runs the junk yard on Rodgers Street right next to where that massive fire raged last night. "The flames were probably, I'd say, 75 to 80 feet, at least," he said. "Big fire. Big."

Big enough for him to worry about his business being in the line of fire, especially when two of the fire hydrants firefighters connected to didn't work. "Neither one of them had a drop of water in them," Houston said.

It wouldn't have made a difference as far as saving the building. "The fire was bigger than the amount of water we could have put on it anyway," said Albany Fire Chief James Carswell.

Firefighters had to move to plan B and pump water from a hydrant down the road. "What it did was cause us to do a little bit more labor to accomplish the same task, but the damage was the damage regardless," said Carswell.

AFD checks each hydrant every year. One of the hydrants that failed yesterday, worked when checked earlier this year, but one wasn't checked, because it's not on city maps, and was hard to see.

As for Houston, he just wants to know that if there's ever a fire near his business again, "The closest hydrant works."

But if it doesn't, he's glad to know Albany Firefighters will be on the scene. "There were very professional, right on target. Everybody knew their job. There was no lack in any safety issues or anything with getting that fire under control."

Controlling an inferno, until it burned out. The city is currently mapping all water lines and hydrants. Water, Gas and Light officials tell us they do not know why the hydrants did not function Thursday night.

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