Faulty Hydrants Delayed Efforts at Ind. Apartment Fire

NOBLESVILLE, Ind. -- Noblesville fire officials continued their investigation Monday into a fire that destroyed dozens of apartments over the weekend and said faulty fire hydrants delayed their efforts to gain control of the blaze.

Officials said a car fire sparked and eventually spread to the Deer Chase Apartments at 12190 Whirlaway Dr. just before 11 a.m. on Sunday.

Three firefighters were treated for heat-related injuries and about 25 apartments were destroyed.

Nervous residents said they watched as crews tried unsuccessfully to pump water from nearby fire hydrants, but the water flow to the valves was restricted.

“If the water valves were turned on, they would have stopped it at the car port. (The water) wouldn't release. That's when it spread to the other building and we just watched it (burn),” said resident Ashley Croam.

Noblesville fire officials said one of the two closest hydrants near the complex was not working properly. The hydrant is not operated by the city, but by the housing community, RTV6’s Ebone Monet reported.

"I don't think that anyone intended for the valve to be shut off or restricted the day that there was a fire. I think that someone just forgot to turn it on or didn't know how to work the valve properly,” said Noblesville Division Chief Rick Russell.

Jim Erickson, vice president of Crestline Communities, said he’s working with authorities to determine what went wrong and why the hydrants weren’t working properly.

“We want to know so that if it ever happens again we can be assured that the water is going to work adequately. This is something that the complex has to figure out and come up with answers of how do you think this water got shut off,” Erickson said. “We were inspected by a company 45 days ago to make sure everything was working as it should and got the all clear that everything was working as it should."

Fire officials said they believe arson sparked the blaze and they are searching for boy with long blond hair who was last seen riding a red bicycle.

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