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Mitchell Residents Concerned About Working Fire Hydrants

Last updated on Wednesday, October 9, 2013

(MITCHELL) - Pam Condra believes some of her belongings might have been saved if the fire hydrants near her home had been working properly.

A fire destroyed Condra's home at 125 West Mississippi Avenue September 20th. According to Mitchell Volunteer Fire Department Chief Tyler Duncan the home was fully engulfed when firefighters arrived.

Condra addressed the Mitchell City Council with her concerns Monday night.

"I'm not saying my house would've been saved, but maybe I could've salvaged something," Condra told the council. "But I couldn't salvage anything."

Mitchell firefighters were called to the home at 5:58 p.m. When they arrived on the scene the hydrants near the home were not working. That is when Marion Township Volunteer Fire Department firefighters were called to assist at 6:16 p.m.

Condra says firefighters had to go to hydrants blocks away and transport the water to the fire.

Duncan says firefighters knew the hydrant didn't work and it is not uncommon for firefighters to use a different hydrant so they can pull water from the main line. But the hydrant working had nothing to do with the home being destroyed.

It was fully engulfed when firefighters arrived, at that point firefighters move to a defensive plan, containing the blaze and protecting adjacent structures.

Duncan says the cause of the fire was an electrical problem in the attic above the room where 182 antique oil lamps filled with oil were kept.

Condra's neighbor Tony George was present when the fire started.

"This concerns me," George says. "I am concerned on which hydrants are working and which ones don't."

Duncan says all the city hydrants are checked and flushed annually.

Condra thanked the fire departments, street department and her neighbor Tony George and area churches for their assistance during and after the blaze.

But now her concerns are the safety of other Mitchell residents.

"What if I or my grandson had been sleeping in that house and we didn't have smoke alarms we would have died in that house because there was no water," Condra says. "Thankfully I had a smoke detector in every room."

Condra wants the city to pay her for the hydrant fee she has been paying on her water bill.

"For more than 9 years I have been paying that fee," she added. "I would like to have that fee credited to my water bill and know that the problem will be fixed."

City attorney Byron Steele said he could not consult Condra on the situation and recommended she hire an attorney and file a lawsuit if she wanted the money back.

Condra told the council she didn't want to sue the city, she just wanted the hydrant problem fixed.

Mayor Gary Pruett told Condra he would address the issue with Tyler Duncan who serves as both Mitchell VFD fire chief and utility superintendent and see that the department's standard operating procedures to make sure the hydrants are working properly.

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