LAWRENCE (CBS) – A Lawrence woman whose home was destroyed by a fast-moving fire, believes the structure could have been saved if not for water issues in the city. She says the firefighting effort was hampered by a low volume of water available to firefighters from a nearby hydrant.
“I watched the hydrant, how they first hooked it up,” said Jodi Caraballo who claims firefighters were struggling to get enough water volume from the hoses onto her home and two others next to it.
Fire Chief Jack Bergeron says it has been an issue due to an aging pipeline that is clogged with rust and sediment. He says the lines on Hancock Street where the fire broke out were installed in the 1800’s.
While the chief acknowledges the water volume contributed to the firefighting effort, he says the three homes were also close together, firefighters had to first check out reports of people inside the homes, and the fire was building quickly. “It’s very frustrating. We know our job and know what we want to be able to do,” he said.
Caraballo says she has no home and has been trying to find places for her three children to sleep temporarily. “I don’t know where my kids are going to sleep from night to night,” Caraballo says.
She wants to hold the city responsible and said it’s time for city leaders to aggressively address the water issues. Ironically, with some bond money, gradual improvements to the city’s pipeline are expected to begin in the next few weeks but it will take considerable time, and the fire chief hopes the money will last long enough to complete the work.
Caraballo says it’s too late for her and her home. “I don’t blame the firefighters,” she says, “because the tools they needed weren’t working.” She was insured for the loss of her home but not the contents and is still trying to figure out how to start over.