Closest Fire Hydrant Unusable Due to Low Pressure, Fire Trucks Struggle With Running Out of Water
Darren Doyle, story and photos:
Firefighters struggled to keep their trucks filled at the scene of a structure fire on Otter Gap Road early this morning.
Multiple firefighters were paged around 6:10AM on Wednesday morning to the report of a structure fire at 2798 Otter Gap Road that was fully involved. Emergency personnel kept the blaze under control until the first batch of trucks began to run out of water.
The nearest fire hydrant was only about a quarter mile down the road at Otter Gap Church; however, firefighters discovered that there wasn't enough pressure coming from the hydrant to fill a firetruck.
"This is why we constantly talk about the need for fire hydrants in this county," said Chalybeate Fire Chief Daniel Johnson. "We felt like we had it under control until we found out we had to go somewhere else to get water. By that time, it was done too late to save it."
A working fire hydrant was utilized about a mile and a half up the road on HWY 743 at the home of what was formerly the old Chalybeate School.
Even with multiple fire departments on scene, the trucks continued to run out of water. Another firefighter on scene said that with subdivisions and more populated areas where everyone is tapped into the same line as they hydrants, the pressure is too low to be utilized by the fire departments. Firefighters have repeatedly voiced these concerns with county officials and the local water district. In 2019, the Edmonson County Water District announced a $1.29M project for the purpose of adding fire hydrants to the county, which were designed to be divided equally among fire districts.
A family member at the scene said the home belonged to Mike Cline, who was at work at the time of the fire. No injuries were reported at the fire.
Otter Gap Road was closed for over three hours from Chalybeate School Road down to Otter Gap Church. One lane reopened around 9:45AM and Chief Johnson said this would likely be the case for the next few hours.
Responding to the scene were the Chalybeate, Wingfield, Brownsville, Kyrock, Rocky Hill, and Smiths Grove Fire Departments, WRECC, and the Edmonson County Sheriff's Office.