Fire victim wants answers about waterless hydrant

House in neighborhood off Hodges Boulevard destroyed by fire


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A Southside man whose home was destroyed by fire early Saturday is demanding answers from JEA and Jacksonville Fire-Rescue after firefighters couldn't get any water out of the nearest fire hydrant.

The orange glow from the predawn fire could be seen a half mile away, according to first responders with JFRD. When the first tanker arrived, crews threw 400 gallons of water on the burning home on Kelsey Island Drive.

Firefighters said they lost time stringing together water lines to reach the next fire hydrant 75 yards away.

"When a firefighter approaches a hydrant and it doesn't work, that's not their last plan of action, and it speaks to the professionalism of the team and they figure out what other options do they have," JFRD spokesman Tom Francis said.

Francis added that the minutes firefighters lost while finding another hydrant would not have saved this house because it was fully involved when they arrived.

Homeowner Arthur Pue says he's considering legal action against both JFRD and JEA.

"When I saw there was no water coming and the fire was spreading to the rest of the house, I became angry, and I'm watching the time frame there," Pue said. "The more I got angry."

The city-owned utility told Channel that someone who doesn't work for them likely closed an independent valve which controls the flow of water.

"We do know the independent valve was turned off. We don't know when it was turned off or who turned it off," said JEA spokeswoman Gerri Boyce.

JEA receives a notice each Monday about the hydrants that don't work, and they are listed as either important or an emergency. Boyce say the fire hydrant in question was never reported as being inoperable.

"Certainly everyone expects a fire hydrant to work," Boyce said.

Arthur Pue's neighbors are also wondering how to know if their fire hydrants.

"I think all the hydrants need to be looked into," said neighbor Donica Hayes. "Why wasn't it working?"

JEA crews were in the neighborhood off Hodges Boulevard Monday checking to make sure all the hydrants were working.

Boyce said if you have concerns about the hydrants in your neighborhood, call the 630-0434 and the fire department will contact the precinct nearest your house and find out when they were last inspected and whether in works."

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