Hydrant Fails, Michigan House Destroyed by Fire

SAGINAW, Mich. -- A fire hydrant failed when a local family needed it the most. Alfonzo Thomas watched his house go up in flames only to find out the closest hydrant was broken. Thomas was out to dinner when he got a phone call saying his house...


SAGINAW, Mich. --

A fire hydrant failed when a local family needed it the most. Alfonzo Thomas watched his house go up in flames only to find out the closest hydrant was broken.

Thomas was out to dinner when he got a phone call saying his house was on fire. His brother was home at the time but he made it out safely.

“My brother was here at the time and he was like we can't find a hydrant, we can't find a hydrant. I'm like there's one right there directly across the street from my house, that's not working,” said Thomas.

Firefighters had to use a tanker truck until they found another hydrant. The fire was in the basement and firefighters couldn’t go inside until they were hooked up to a working hydrant.

“In this particular case, we made our initial attack as we normally would. The interior attack was delayed about three minutes,” said Saginaw Fire Chief Dean Holland.

After the fire, Thomas tried to contact the city of Saginaw to find out why this important water source wasn’t working. Thomas couldn’t get a straight answer, so TV5 took the tough questions to officials.

“As we found it's been through unauthorized use somebody, vandals, somebody not supposed to be using it turns it on after we winterized the hydrant,” said John Premo, in the Public Works Department.

According to the city of Saginaw, the hydrant was frozen. Their records show it was winterized in October, but Premo suspects someone tampered with it later.

TV5’s Liz Gelardi asked, “Do you think the outcome would've been any different if that hydrant was not frozen?”

“No the outcome was what the outcome was. It wouldn't have altered that one way or another,” said Holland.

But as Thomas looked at his empty house he can’t help but wonder if a working hydrant would’ve made a difference.

“You know we pay city taxes and we pay for that to be on and it's not working and now look at the damage, my house is gone,” said Thomas.

The city has more than 2,500 working hydrants. Officials are encouraging people not to tamper with them.

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