Firefighters find dry water hydrants at burning aparment building NW Harris County

July 17, 2013 4:26:07 AM PDT
How do you fight a fire without any water? That was the question Tuesday afternoon as an apartment building in northwest Harris County burned.

Sixteen apartments were destroyed in the fire, and now the fire marshal's office is investigating after firefighters reported that the hydrants weren't working properly.

When firefighters arrived at the Timbers of Cranbrook Apartments, one of the buildings was already engulfed in flames.

"Flames did break through the roof," Little York Fire Department Deputy Chief Don Gilkey said.

Thirty firefighters responded -- enough to handle the fire -- but there was one big problem: they didn't have any water.

"All of them was dead or little or no water. So we had to establish water supply out on Ella and close Ella just do get water down here," Gilkey said.

They had to run hoses across Ella Boulevard. The fire went to two alarms and they say the delay was costly.

"It hampers the effort to try to put out the fire, period," Gilkey said.

Chris Weaver and his wife just moved there a week ago..

"It's crazy. It's kinda scary too," he said.

They are torn between relief that their unit wasn't damaged and shock over what is now gone.

"One lady, she's elderly and she lost everything. And us, we're just lucky we didn't get caught in the fire," Weaver said.

The Harris County Fire Marshal's Office is now investigating the hydrant report.

"From what we understand, it's a private system," said Lt. Chad Shaw with the fire marshal's office. "If they own their own hydrants, they have to maintain them and make sure they have proper flow."

Residents tell us if there was a failure by the property owner to perform proper maintenance, it should compensate the affected residents.

"If it's on the property, they're responsible," resident Stephon Carter said.

The property owner did not return calls seeking comment.

The Red Cross is helping displaced residents.

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