INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – A parked car was causing problems for firefighters as a house down the block was engulfed in flames.
The fire happened in the 2400 block of Guilford Avenue Tuesday morning. Investigators said the owner woke up and escaped just before fire got worse. They don’t know the cause at this time.
Overcoming the flames wasn’t their only obstacle for firefighters. The first crew on the scene entered Guilford Avenue from the north and didn’t see any hydrants. So they dropped their hoses in front of the house and continued down the block to look for one. They found a hydrant but a new problem was getting in their way.
With the house fully engulfed, time was on Private Chris Mcgrone’s mind. As part of the first engine on scene, he was in charge of hooking up the hose to the nearest hydrant.
When asked what was on his mind at that time he said, “First and foremost, my crew. I got to make sure they have water, can’t fight fire without water.”
But when he pulled up to the hydrant there wasn’t as much space near the curb as he was hoping.
“I got as close to the hydrant as I could without hitting the car that was parked illegaly.”
Directly in front of the hydrant was a parked SUV. Mcgrone said it slowed down his ability to connect the hose. He said the vehicle also prevented the hose from fully unraveling, creating a kink in the line that affected the water pressure.
And with the fire raging down the street, timing is everything.
“It makes all the difference, in between life and death. I wouldn’t even say a minute or two, I’d say five to ten seconds.”
Not surprisingly, neighbors like Lois Sparks were fired up. “Of course it bothers me,” she said.
Standing on her porch she has a clear view of the corner and said cars are often parked in front of the hydrant and added that she watched Mcgrone try to maneuver around the SUV.
“I wondered would (the SUV owner) come out and move the vehicle but apparently no one did,” she said.
We found the SUV later parked much further away from the hydrant. The owner didn’t want to talk on camera, but said he moved it down the block after a police officer wrote him a ticket. Parking within 12 feet (measured laterally along the curb) of a hydrant is against the law. But he argued he didn’t know because the curb in front of it is painted white, the same color as the entire block.
“I guess they’ll know now after today,” said Mcgrone.
Not only will people on the block now know to steer clear of hydrants, but why doing it is so important.
“Our life and safety depends on it and so does the public and you know personal property as well,” said Mcgrone.
The good thing is firefighters said they don’t run into the parked-car-problem too much.
What they said happens more often is when weeds and grass grow over a hydrant.
Firefighters said just like during the winter when they ask people to clear snow from the hydrants, they want people to clear overgrown grass in addition to not parking in front of them.