Training Mission Delays Response To Florida Fire

A huge fire destroyed a big home on the shore of Lake Minnehaha in Lake County on Wednesday, and all firefighters could do was try to keep it from spreading.

All the residents can do now is salvage what they can out of the home, WESH 2 News reported.

Although there is no good time for a fire, Wednesday's timing was particularly bad. The fire engine at the nearest fire station was on a training mission when the call came in, and that delayed firefighters by about 10 minutes.

By the time an engine arrived, flames had flared into the rafters and gusty winds sent fire racing through the roof.

"These guys are doing a hard job, putting fires out and stuff, but, you know, it just seemed like there was only a couple of guys here with the first truck. And hindsight is everything, but I just wish that they could have got the water on there a little sooner," said neighbor Doni Keene.

Knowing that they wouldn't have a fire hydrant nearby, Lake County firefighters brought their own water. They brought enough to put out a house fire, but it took even more time to get the water flowing.

"We had sufficient water. It does take awhile to get that set up and get that flowing, and since this is not a hydranted area, to the best of our ability," said Chief Jack Philman, of Lake County Fire and Rescue.

Philman said they always bring water to a fire because much of unincorporated Lake County lacks hydrants. It's a fact of life in the county that many homeowners may not think about until they have to.

"We built our house about five years ago, and we knew we were close to a firehouse. You don't really think about measuring where the closest hydrant in case something does happen until something does," Keene said.

Fire investigators have determined that the fire started in a wall next to the fireplace. The owner had a fire going on Wednesday morning. Everyone got out safely.

County officials said there are some problems with trying to get fire hydrants on the south shore of Lake Minnehaha. Access to water and the cost are some of the reasons given.

The town of Paisley recently requested fire hydrants, and a county investigation found it would cost $4 million and the homeowners would have to pay for it with taxes.

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