Jan 20, 2014 11:19 PM by Erin Steuber

Lack of Hydrants Complicate Response to Mansion Fire

You've seen the images, the pillars and mounds of ash are all that's left after a multi-million dollar home on Verot School Road that went up in flames. Now, the question to be answered, were there enough fire hydrants in the area to handle such a massive blaze. The 18,000 square foot mansion burned to the ground in under an hour on Sunday afternoon. The current homeowners tell us a motorcycle that was running in the garage likely caused the fire. And Monday firefighters remained on scene putting out hotspots.

Firefigthers report a big hurdle was a lack of fire hydrants. So why is that? And could the home have been saved?

It was a magnificent home, left in ruins, with only its columns left standing. Despite the work of four fire departments, the entire structure burned to the ground in 30 minutes and the fire raged on for hours.

With a lack of fire hydrants in this unincorporated area of Lafayette, Verot School Road was shut down so water could be trucked in from as far away as Carencro and Scott.

"In this particular case you have a lot of subdivisions out there, in that particular area, with no fire protection. You have hydrants out there, but they're what are called potable water hydrants. They are only meant for residential use, not for fire fighting," said Lafayette Fire Chief Robert Benoit.

The city is under contract with the parish to respond to fires in the unincorporated areas with the help of the closest volunteer department. But without fire hydrants, Benoit says, the job becomes much more complicated.

"The truck only carries 500 gallons of water. We can dump that water in a structure in 2 to 3 minutes. If we don't put it in the right spot, or if it's not enough water, you'll be out, so you'll need a second water source. In the City of Lafayette that second water source is fire hydrants," said Benoit.

Benoit says it's hard to say if the house could have been saved even with hydrants available. But any changes to fire protection in the unincorporated areas is in the hands of taxpayers.

"They are going to have to make that decision, whether or not they want to improve and get fire hydrants out there. Or get more fire stations built, or even hire more people in the unincorporated areas," said Benoit.



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