Vandals target nearly a dozen fire hydrants in Athens
In McMinn County, police are trying to find who is responsible for vandalizing fire hydrants in Athens.
"That water costs money. And it's flowing right down the drain for no reason," Athens Fire Chief Brandon Ainsworth said.
Eleven fire hydrants have been tampered with over the span of two days last week and authorities don't know who is doing it.
"The problem is, it not only wastes hundreds of thousands of gallons of water, which our rate payers have paid to produce and will have to pay to replace, it could really be a public safety issue," Athens Utilities Board Assistant General Manager Wayne Scarbrough said.
Eight fire hydrants were opened in one night around the same time and in the same area.
The next night, it happened again, this time involving three hydrants.
Scarbrough said when a hydrant is opened, pressure pushes a thousand gallons of water out per minute.
"If several hydrants blasted the way they did for a period of time, then yes, it's going to lower our reservoirs and lower reservoirs fairly quickly," he added.
The amount of pressure is also dangerous to anyone who encounters the water flow and the vandals themselves.
Ainsworth said the vandals are also stealing the caps making the hydrants inoperable in an emergency.
"From slowing down response, to interfering with response, to delaying getting water to a fire to save somebody's property. There's just numerous things that we could encounter with this," he added.
Athens Utilities Board has since replaced the stolen caps and is looking at looking all of the fire hydrants in Athens to prevent this type of thing from happening again.
"We've got to figure out who's doing this and put a stop to it," Ainsworth said.
The person or people responsible are looking at tampering and theft of property charges and a $500 fine, per episode.
If you have information that can help police find who is responsible, call Athens Police at 423-744-2730.