Hydrant shortage forces fire trucks to hook up block from Kendra blaze|[6/15/06]

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 15, 2006

A house at 506 Kendra Drive in south Vicksburg was destroyed by fire Wednesday, injuring none but renewing attention to a city residential street with no fire hydrants.

The two fire trucks responding at 10:45 a.m. were forced to hook hoses to a hydrant around the block on Belva Drive, a parallel street.

&#8220For more than a year, they’ve been telling us they’re going to get hydrants out here,” said Kendra resident Nita Poole, who lives a few doors down from the consumed house.

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A city water main project begun in July 2004 included installing hydrants on the road, but has not been completed. The road, formerly part of Warren County, was annexed 16 years ago.

South Ward Alderman Sid Beauman said today Bowie River Construction of Hattiesburg had finished its contract but left some punch list items, including installing some fire hydrants and cleanup.

&#8220That was part of the project they wouldn’t complete,” said Beauman, who lives nearby on Singing Hills Road. &#8220We fully intend to complete that project. The funds are available to complete that project.”

Public Works Director Bubba Rainer said the city had planned to install hydrants on Kendra on an existing 6-inch water line, but Bowie River found only a 2-inch line there, too small for the hydrants. The city will soon advertise for a new contractor to finish the project, which will include installing a 6-inch line and hydrants, Rainer said.

City attorneys are also in talks with the construction company’s lawyers because of &#8220issues over quality of work,” he said.

&#8220They pretty much completed their contract, but the issues were some warranty issues and finalizing, cleaning up, repairing. They were supposed to tie in some lines that were not tied in,” said Rainer of a project that was originally scheduled to be completed a year ago. &#8220It drug on and on and on.”

Municipal standards require a hydrant every 1,000 feet, but most are 300 to 500 feet apart, said Fire Chief Keith Rogers, who added hydrant locations and water supply may not have been a factor in Wednesday’s fire, but could be in the future.

The City of Vicksburg, which was 13 square miles, added 20 square miles in 1990 and has been working to extend municipal-level services since.

&#8220A couple areas to the south, there’s a problem there” with lack of hydrants, Rogers said. &#8220But everywhere else I think we’re pretty much caught up.”

Generally, firefighters on scene have discretion once they arrive as to where to hook up, Rogers said, adding it’s possible to have hydrants &#8220too close” to the flames.

Wednesday, power lines above the burning house fell into the road and the driveway of the house, forcing the second engine on scene to divert its route and bypass a nearer hydrant on Maple Circle in the process, Rogers said. The speed and intensity of the fire had been established before engines arrived, he said, limiting hookup time as a factor in the damage.

&#8220I don’t think it really contributed to the action because when Engine 5 got there, they said there was smoke everywhere,” Rogers said. &#8220But could it affect the next one? Sure it could, without question.”

Two people in the home escaped the flames after smoke alarms woke them up, said Vicksburg Fire Department Investigator Leslie Decareaux.

The fire was accidental and originated from a kitchen stove, she said.

The fire was also spotted by one of the house’s residents, Derrick Payne, 16, who was across the street at a friend’s house when he said he looked out the window and saw smoke pouring out of the home where he lives with his father, Orrick Payne, and a cousin.

Orrick Payne arrived from work as the flames were being doused about a half hour after firefighters were summoned.

The house was standing, but charred and gutted by flames throughout.