Pitiful! What happens when firefighters have no working hydrants or water pressure

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By Steve Neavling
Motor City Muckraker

Hydrant after hydrant failed to provide adequate water pressure as firefighters tried to contain a blaze in the ornate Glen-Villa Apartments in Highland Park on Saturday afternoon.

For hours, flames moved across the 68-unit apartment until it was gutted.

Screen Shot 2016-01-10 at 8.23.48 PMWhen Detroit and Highland Park firefighters found working hydrants, the water pressure was often so low that it was useless.

Check out our one-year investigation of bad hydrants in Detroit.

The third-alarm blaze required so many Detroit firefighters that most of the city was unprotected. One Detroit firefighter was injured.

While firefighters were at the Highland Park fire, a blaze broke out in a house at Lindsay Street and Fargo Avenue on the northwest side, killing a 7-month-old girl, Michaela.

Although some firefighters from the northwest side were at the Highland Park blaze, Squad 1 was nearby and arrived four minutes after the call. Neighbors and firefighters tried to rescue the child, but the house was engulfed.

Another civilian died Saturday afternoon from carbon-monoxide poisoning on the northwest side.

Shortly before 7:30 p.m., a Detroit firefighter was injured after he was overcome with smoke. He was still in serious condition Sunday evening.

Detroit, Highland Park and Hamtramck have an automatic mutual-aid agreement to assist each other with firefighting. For every nine fires that Highland Park responds outside its borders, Detroit responds to one in Highland Park.

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The water pressure was so low at times that firefighters couldn’t reach the blaze.

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This hydrant didn’t work.
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At times, water pressure was relatively strong, as long as only one hose was being used.
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Water from the tower often couldn’t reach the core of the fire.

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Firefighters had no water pressure at this point.
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To get water, firefighters tapped into a hydrant several blocks away, using two fire engines to relay the water.

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Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.

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