Tree fire sparks calls for more hydrants on American Beach streets

Historic community in Nassau County has been dealing with lack of fire hydrants

AMERICAN BEACH, Fla. – A lack of fire hydrants has been an issue in Nassau County for a while, but the topic came up again after a small fire that happened last week in American Beach.

Nassau County firefighters responded to the minor tree fire, which started because of a downed power line. Though the fire was no big deal, American Beach residents said that they would like to see hydrants on their streets.

American Beach, which is near the intersection of Amelia Island Parkway and State Road A1A, is known for its history. It used to be a beach for African Americans during segregation. Now, it's a hidden gem and a peaceful beach community.

Michelina Smith has lived in American Beach her whole life and her mother owns one of the original homes there. Smith told News4Jax that hydrants would be a huge plus to the neighborhood.

“Now that we have more and more people coming and staying year-round, it’s probably better that we have that for safety purposes," Smith said. "I know people have mixed feelings about it, but I think in the end, in the interest of safety, it’s probably better that we have the hydrants."

Erin Dobson, who has been a homeowner in American Beach for five years, said he never noticed the lack of hydrants, but would like them to be there in case of an emergency.

“I think it’s very great that they are going to finally get something out here to protect the people and homes in this historical area," Dobson said. "This area needs protection."

Map shows fire hydrants in the area

Nassau County has run into issues in the past when there have been large house fires and no hydrant nearby. A home in Yulee was destroyed in January 2018 because there was a lack of water resources, which hurt the response time. There was a fire at a home in Callahan in May 2018, when tank trucks were needed because there were no hydrants nearby.

Hydrants are not something the department needs every day, but when they are needed and they are not there, it’s a big problem.

The county will decide details on the new water features in American Beach at a series of meetings. Since the project is still in the planning phase, News4Jax does not yet know the specific number of hydrants that could be coming.

News4Jax requested those details from the planning director, but had not heard back as of early Monday evening.

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