- Associated Press - Friday, June 13, 2014

MITCHELL, Ind. (AP) - Firefighters in a small southern Indiana city are facing a major problem - fire hydrants that don’t work.

Pam Condra’s home in Mitchell burned down in September when firefighters couldn’t locate a working hydrant nearby. Tanker trucks couldn’t provide enough water to extinguish the blaze.

“They were doing just fine,” Condra told WTHR-TV (https://bit.ly/1uf5MKr ) for a Friday story. “They almost had the fire put out. Then they ran out of water.”

Firefighters raced to a hydrant just 80 steps from Condra’s burning home, only to find that it didn’t work.

“They couldn’t loosen the little knobs there. It had been so long since it had been used or even flushed, it was frozen,” neighbor Reba McFall said.

It wasn’t the last time. Tina Colbert said she lost everything last month when firefighters couldn’t get hydrants on either end of the block to work.

“They came but nobody had water,” she said. “Hoses were all over the ground, no water running through them. None. It was just surreal.”

Gary Pruett, mayor of the city of 4,300, acknowledged that with more than 200 fire hydrants around the city about 75 miles south of Indianapolis, there’s a serious problem. Some of the city’s fire hydrants are more than 70 years old, but they haven’t been regularly tested and flushed as state law requires. The city has no records to show they’ve ever been tested.

Now, officials are preparing to test them to find out which ones work and which ones don’t.

“I’m not sure why that happened, but it stops now,” said Pruett. “I have a hydrant by my house, and my neighbor asked me if it works. I can’t say if it does or not. I haven’t seen it work. I didn’t know when it was last flushed, but that’s on the list of things to do. We’ve got to find these things out.”

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Information from: WTHR-TV, https://www.wthr.com/

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