Concerns Raised About Broken Florida Hydrant

DELTONA, Fla. --

Investigators said a fire that gutted a home in Deltona Monday night was set deliberately, making it a big concern to neighbors.

But the fact that the fire hydrant across the street from the ruined house was out of service raised even bigger concerns.

Deltona firefighters did not know the fire hydrant was out of service until they arrived on the scene and saw a bag over the hydrant. As a result, the house kept burning while firefighters worked to find the next closest water source.

"I saw huge flames and what looked like fireworks shooting up into the sky," said neighbor Louis Lenoir.

The fire literally blew the roof off of the house, and had swelled to an inferno by the time firefighters arrived. Officials confirmed that someone must have deliberately set it ablaze.

"This was obviously a deliberately set fire, with accelerants of some type that obviously were used to create this large volume of fire this rapidly," said Bob Rogers of the Deltona Fire Department.

As a result of the accelerants, firefighters do not think they could have saved the home, but they were nevertheless surprised to find their efforts hampered by the out-of-service fire hydrant.

Lenoir said he was very concerned by this revelation.

"You work all day and you come home and you put your kids to bed," said Lenoir. "You like to think that if anything ever happened, you're taken care of."

Firefighters used a tanker to get immediate water on the fire, while others laid hose to the next closest hydrant-- more than a quarter-mile away.

"We just brought in the trucks and we did a lay from the house that was on fire to the hydrant," said Rogers. "It was about 1,700-1,800 feet away."

The nonworking hydrant does not belong to Deltona, but rather Volusia County Utilities. It was the company's responsibility to notify the city the hydrant was out.

"Why that didn't happen this time, we don't know," said Rogers. "We're working with them to find out what happened and why we didn't get notification that this fire hydrant was out of service."

Volusia County officials held several meetings Tuesday to investigate why the fire department was not notified.

The owner of the torched home is out of the country. It was not immediately clear whether the owner is aware of the arson.

No one was injured in the blaze.

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