Saturday morning fire destroys Southside home

Homeowners say water issues affected JFRD response

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Firefighters battled a house fire in a neighborhood off Hodges Boulevard early Saturday morning on the Southside.

Two people were inside the home on Kelsey Island Drive when the fire started about 5 a.m., but were able to make it out safely. The flames, reaching more than 20 feet into the air, destroyed the home.

JFRD officials said it took them 8 minutes to respond, but firefighters had a problem with water. The fire grew as a result of the problem.

JEA officials said they control fire hydrants, but the one the firefighters used is an independent valve that can be shut off by a contractor. JEA is looking into whether it's had any recent activity on the hydrant.

"In this issue it looks like the issue was an independent valve," says spokesperson Gerry Boyce. "It's a valve for the hydrant so if a car hits the hydrant, we could isolate water turn it off without going to the neighborhood."

Gerry Boyce says someone turned off a valve on the fire hydrant. She says it could have been a private contractor who isn't supposed to adjust the valves. She says a check of JEA's records don't show any calls for service at the hydrant in question.

"Certainly it's speculation to place blame on anyone," Boyce says. "JEA did go through the records this morning at the hydrant and we did determine there are no work orders currently or in the past for this hydrant, JEA had no knowledge the firefighters wasn't working."

JEA services more than 18,000 fire hydrants in four counties. Unfortunately, the one nearest to this burning home wasn't working properly, costing firefighters precious minutes, while the house went up in flames.

If you are concerned a fire hydrant working properly near your home, you can contact Jacksonville Fire Rescue or JEA, and someone from one of the two agencies will check that hydrant for problems.