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San Pedranos blame Fire Service – Fire Service Blames Congestion!

San Pedranos blame Fire Service – Fire Service Blames Congestion!
August 07
15:08 2018

San Pedro residents have come out swinging at the Fire Department, blaming what they say was a slow and inadequate response for the spreading of a blaze which ultimately destroyed 10 houses and left 87 persons homeless in the wee hours of Saturday morning. But Fire Chief Ted Smith refutes that, claiming that congestion as a result of poor building practices was the real reason for the huge loss.

Some residents say it took the Fire Department over half an hour to reach the scene after the first flames were spotted at a little after 1:00am, and that the Fire Department was not answering their phone calls. Smith said no one informed them of the blaze until 1:36am when the Police, who are located next door, walked over and told them that a house was on fire on Conch Shell Street in the Boca del Rio area. He said he does not know why the Fire Station was not informed in a timely manner, but that eyewitnesses later told them that in the heat of the moment, their priority was getting everyone out of the buildings.

Smith added that when the three firefighters stationed on the island arrived at the scene, two of the houses were already on fire. He said the first house had apparently been burning for a while but that no one called the Fire Department to inform them.

Smith explained that it takes one-third the amount of water that the truck holds just to fill the three hoses that were in use. Thereafter, it is only a matter of minutes before all the water is used up and then the firefighters have to find a water source. Responding to accusations that the pump which would have been used to access water from the nearby lagoon was out of water, Smith claimed the pump was working fine until a civilian pulled the choke button and shut it off. That was when the bucket brigade got organized and into action.

According to the Fire Chief,“whether we had arrived with five trucks and 20 men – it would have been extremely difficult to contain the fire because the members of the (Fire) Department don’t have the opportunity to properly implement what we call the three-pronged attack within the area because of the close proximity…when it’s so tightly congested, you got problems dealing with exposure.”

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