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

Fire Shines Spotlight on Hydrant Shortage in Cheswold

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Some town officials say scenes like this in Cheswold can be prevented with more fire hydrants. (Photo: WBOC) Some town officials say scenes like this in Cheswold can be prevented with more fire hydrants. (Photo: WBOC)
Town officials say the fire hydrants in the "Old Town" section of Cheswold are few and far between, because the houses all use well water. (Photo: WBOC) Town officials say the fire hydrants in the "Old Town" section of Cheswold are few and far between, because the houses all use well water. (Photo: WBOC)
New Street in Cheswold is part of Old Town. The houses are close together, and town officials say it gets scary when one lights on fire. (Photo: WBOC) New Street in Cheswold is part of Old Town. The houses are close together, and town officials say it gets scary when one lights on fire. (Photo: WBOC)

CHESWOLD, Del.- It's a problem that has plagued the small Town of Cheswold for years, and it is back in the spot light because of a house fire in April.

The house burned to the ground because of, town officials say, the lack of fire hydrants in the area.

Donald Tinari, town council member and former mayor, says what the fire department could not do when that fire was raging is the most concerning.

"The fire department say that all they could do was stand here and watch it burn. That's kind of what they said," he said.

The concern is about one area of town. It is called Old Town, and the homes have been around for years. Because of the age of the homes, they use well water instead of water lines. No water lines means no fire hydrants, says Tinari.

WBOC was there when a home caught fire in Old Town in 2014. The firefighters had to drag hoses approximately 1,200 feet to get to a nearby fire hydrant. The concern was about just how far the hose had to be run. By the time they got the hoses hooked up, the water in the truck could be very low or depleted, according to Tinari.

Another concern of the town is just how close the homes are together in Old Town, according to Theon Callender, the town's administrator. She says their fear is that one night, with the correct winds and a fire, Old Town could be gone.

She also says it's not very easy to simply put in water lines.

"We have about a $500,000 budget," she said. "And we just can't afford to put that type of an infrastructure in."

Tinari says it has been a problem in the town for years, and April's fire has brought the issue back into the spotlight. They are just fearful of actually losing lives one day because the firefighters could not get to a fire hydrant fast enough.

"And we shouldn't have to rely on good luck," Tinari said. "Like that water truck. Good luck that it's available."

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