Cheswold Fire Shines Spotlight on Hydrant Issue - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Cheswold Fire Shines Spotlight on Hydrant Issue in Old Town Neighborhood

Posted: Updated:

CHESWOLD, Del. (WBOC) - Tuesday's big fire in Cheswold is shining a bright light on a serious public safety hazard in the town's historic section.

That fire destroyed a home on New Street in Cheswold's "Old Town" neighborhood. Everyone living there escaped unhurt, but three of their dogs died in the fire.

"My whole house is gone," said Carol Achuff. "I never thought this would ever happen to me."

Firefighters faced challenges getting water to fight the flames.

Houses use well water in that part of Cheswold. That means there are no water lines under New Street, and no water lines means no fire hydrants.

"The problem is we have no hydrants," said Cheswold Police Chief Chris Workman. "The firefighters get here. They do a great job. But they have to lay a line that's way down the street to get a hydrant."

That hydrant was nearly a fifth of a mile away from Achuff's home.

The hydrant issue also popped up during a different fire last year just a short distance from the scene of Tuesday's fire.

Sam Callender, Cheswold's secretary-treasurer, knows the lack of hydrants in old town is a very real problem and is seeking a federal grant to study the costs of putting them there.

"It's going to be incredibly expensive. I don't know exactly how much. But it's going to be hundreds of thousands of dollars," Callender said. "And then even once the engineering study is done, most of the grants we could get for the infrastructure, we would have to submit matching funds. We don't have them."

Callender says Cheswold's overall annual budget is only $600,000 in the first place.

The fire department agrees the hydrant problem is serious. But Steve Martin, a past chief for the department, says firefighters can work around it - to an extent.

"Since we used to be a non-hydrant district - we had none - we carry 1,000 gallons of water on each apparatus. So, we have a good start to make on the fire."

Martin says 1,000 gallons is about 10 minutes of water. That gives them time to lay a line to a far away hydrant and makes a fire like Tuesday's handleable.

"But if this happened in the middle of the night, and there was a 50 mph wind, it could take multiple houses, because it just takes so much water," Martin said.

Callender says she's really hoping, and working to see if, there's a way to solve this safety issue. The town has written letters to state lawmakers for help. But for now, the problem remains. And it looks like it will continue to remain a long time to come.

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Woman Killed in Crash West of Millsboro

    Woman Killed in Crash West of Millsboro

    Saturday, April 19 2014 10:04 AM EDT2014-04-19 14:04:50 GMT
    Delaware State Police are investigating a two vehicle crash which has left a 59-year-old woman dead, on Conaway Road.More
    Delaware State Police are investigating a two vehicle crash which has left a 59-year-old woman dead, on Conaway Road.More
  • Pastor Carries Cross from Georgetown to Rehoboth Beach

    Pastor Carries Cross from Georgetown to Rehoboth Beach

    Friday, April 18 2014 11:22 PM EDT2014-04-19 03:22:29 GMT
    GEORGETOWN, Del.- About 16 miles separates Georgetown from Rehoboth Beach. That may not sound like a long distance. But picture doing it by foot."We're carrying a cross all the way from the circle in Georgetown on route 9 all the way to Rehoboth," said Pastor Joel Hitchcock of River City Church. Pastor Hitchcock alongside others spent Good Friday carrying a cross. His logic behind it all was simple."The reason for carrying this cross is to remind people of the main reason for Easter."When we ...More
    GEORGETOWN, Del.- About 16 miles separates Georgetown from Rehoboth Beach. That may not sound like a long distance. But picture doing it by foot."We're carrying a cross all the way from the circle in Georgetown on route 9 all the way to Rehoboth," said Pastor Joel Hitchcock of River City Church. Pastor Hitchcock alongside others spent Good Friday carrying a cross. His logic behind it all was simple."The reason for carrying this cross is to remind people of the main reason for Easter."When we ...More
  • Delmarva Chicken Festival to End in 2014

    Delmarva Chicken Festival to End in 2014

    Friday, April 18 2014 3:52 PM EDT2014-04-18 19:52:53 GMT
    The Delmarva Chicken Festival is making its last run this year after 65 years on the Delmarva Peninsula.More
    The Delmarva Chicken Festival is making its last run this year after 65 years on the Delmarva Peninsula.More
Powered by WorldNow

All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Worldnow and WBOC. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service