NJ home burns down after hydrant fails

January 22, 2013 2:36:30 PM PST
A home in Ewing, New Jersey was destroyed by fire, even though a fire hydrant sits just 25 feet away.

The fire happened at a home in the 200 block of Clamer Road early Sunday morning.

Investigators say embers from a back yard fire pit sparked the flames. The homeowner and her dogs escaped, but another animal died in the blaze.

Firefighters arrived and hooked up their hoses to that nearby hydrant, but there was no water available.

"The firemen all stood there like 'What's wrong?' and it just trickled out," said neighbor Bob Theer. "So for a good 20 to 30 minutes we had numerous fire companies here but no water."

Tanker trucks from area towns had to be brought into fight the fire. "We pay a lot of money to the city for water," said an angry Mayor Bert Steinmann of Ewing. He said the township pays Trenton Waterworks almost $1 million per year to maintain the pipes and hydrants in Ewing, but they are not getting their money's worth.

Steinmann is demanding something be done to improve water pressure after this frightening wake-up call.

"We need to emphasize to them how important it is that these hydrants are working properly and that we can rely on them," Steinmann said.

Officials say the continuing lack of water pressure in this neighborhood is a public safety issue.

"It's very critical because it's one house. It could have been two houses, it could have been three," said Chief Ralf Branmaier of the West Trenton Volunteer Fire Company.

Our calls to the Trenton Waterworks were not returned.

However, we're told they did eventually return the township's calls to set up a meeting after the business administrator threatened to ask the state to intervene.