Fire hydrant malfunctions in Alamogordo, raises safety concerns

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A fire hydrant failure is raising some concerns in one New Mexico city. It malfunctioned while firefighters were trying to save a home, leaving them to look for a plan B.

There were a frantic few minutes Friday for Alamogordo firefighters when a fire erupted at a home near 15th and Arizona. 

Firefighters tried to open the closest fire hydrant, but it wouldn’t budge.

“One guy came over, he tried his hardest to get it open, couldn’t, so another man came over and actually got a long wrench, is what it looked like, and was jumping up and down on it, trying to get it open,โ€ said Jess Mckearney Lewandowski, a neighbor.

Mckearney Lewandowski recorded video of them trying for more than four minutes.

“I do really think that this needs to be addressed, seriously because it really is a bad, bad safety issue,โ€ said Mckearney Lewandowski. 

She said it took three men to eventually get it loose.

โ€œWe had an issue getting the cap off,โ€ said James LeClair, Chief of the Alamogordo Fire Dept.

LeClair said the cap was corroded shut.

“It’s a mechanical piece of equipment, sometimes they fail, and that’s what happened in this case,” said LeClair.

He says theyโ€™re required to inspect the community’s 1,800 hydrants once a year, and this one had been. 

“That hydrant was actually checked about this same time last year,” said LeClair. “In this case, firefighters were able to tap into another hydrant down the street and still put out the fire.”

“Even though they had a little problem with the fire hydrant, there is fire hydrants that are close enough that they could accomplish their work, the firefighters,โ€ said Mike Garcia, a neighbor.

However, some residents think these hydrants should be checked more often.

“Maybe they need to bump it up to bi-annual, every six months or something because I mean, that’s your house, that’s your livelihood, that’s your home,” Jeremy Hendershot, a neighbor.

The city says they’re in the process of their annual hydrant inspections.

The cause of the house fire was a dryer vent that hadn’t been cleaned out.

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