Rhea County fire victim blames broken hydrant & unprepared firefighters
GRAYSVILLE, TN. (WRCB) - A Rhea County woman's home was gutted by fire this weekend. She and other neighbors think it could have been saved if firefighters came more prepared and the fire hydrant next door worked.
The fire broke out in Graysville Sunday afternoon. Gina Gordy was in Dayton, when friends called saying her home was burning down.
She claims when she arrived, not a drop of water had been used to fight it. She says a series of problems led to her home being gutted by the time water was available.
Gordy says she's thankful she and her three-year-old son weren't inside when the electrical fire broke out in her mobile home on Meadow Lark Trail, but says as a single mom, it's hard seeing everything she's worked for gone.
"I mean this is me and my son's home. This is all we have. If maybe the response time was a little quicker, they could've saved something," Gordy says.
Graysville Fire Chief Mike Miles has not returned any calls from Channel 3 and wasn't in the office when we stopped by. Gordy claims the first truck that responded was ill-equipped.
"The first truck got here. It was empty. No water in the truck. They couldn't use the fire hydrant," Gordy says.
She and a dozen other neighbors say the broken fire hydrant next door has been a concern of theirs for a while. Roger Elkins says he brought Mayor Ted Doss down to look at it about six months ago.
"We walked up here and I showed him the whole top wasn't even bolted down and I said what's going to happen if one of these trailers catches on fire," Roger Elkins says.
Channel 3 spoke to Mayor Doss on the phone. He says a hydrant down the street is in working order and that it meets distance requirements.
That is the one Gordy says firefighters stretched hoses from once a second truck arrived, but claims it was more than 20 minutes after the fire broke out and it was too late.
"I pay taxes for this kind of thing," Gordy says.
"I'm hoping they'll have sense enough to get down here and put a new fire hydrant here and get it in operation before this happens again," Elkins says.
Gordy says firefighters told her family to stop trying to fight the fire themselves with a garden hose and called in deputies, saying they were being unruly.
She admits they were being unruly, saying they were infuriated at how the situation was being handled.
The Red Cross is putting her and her son up in a hotel for now.
As far as fixing the broken hydrant, Mayor Ted Doss referred Channel 3 to Sanitation Director Gary Doss, but he was also unavailable Monday.
Neighbors say they're concerned about how many fire hydrants might be out of service.