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Fire hydrant parts stolen in the IE

April 24, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Firefighters say that a house they tried to save in Hesperia is a total loss, because they were unable to hook up to a number of fire hydrants because parts had been stolen.Neighbor Myrtle Williams says all firefighters could do was watch her neighbor's house burned to the ground.

Click in the Eyewitness News story window above to watch Rob McMillan's report from the scene of the fire, including an interviews with upset neighbors.

"They were standing out here and there was nothing that they could do," said Williams.

"It was terrifying watching the fire grow bigger, watching it move towards the house and the possibility of the trees and seeing the ashes. You think you are safe because the firefighters are here and then you find out that you are not," said neighbor Kim Gallegos.

Three fire hydrants in the area had their brass tops stolen by crooks. They stole them so they could sell them for a couple of bucks.

"You are endangering lives for $8.00. Is $8.00 worth a child or a mother, a father, a brother or a sisters life? It is not just the property, there could of been somebody in there," adds Gallegos.

Even though no one was home firefighters thought someone might be trapped inside. Because there was no water they could not knock the fire out to get inside.

"That is a very frightening feeling when you do not have adequate resources to do your job," said Capt. Dave Burkart from the San Bernardino Co. Fire Dept.

Capt. Burkart says that crews are going to start carrying spare parts with them, but who knows how much that will help because time is everything.

Crews say that when a house is burning they don't have the time to mess around with a fire hydrant just to make sure it works.

"It is frustrating and it creates work. It is time, it is expense, it's money and it is life safety and that is the primary concern," said Capt. Burkart.

The owner of the home was not there at the time of the fire. Firefighters say that neighbors should look out for the brass piece at the top of the hydrant.

If it is missing that is a major hazard and the fire department in the area should be notified.

 

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