MADISON COUNTY, Ky. (LEX 18) — As firefighters worked in frigid temperatures in the early hours of Monday morning to control a fire at the Richmond Manor apartments in Madison County, they ran into an added obstacle.
Three fire hydrants near the burning apartment building were not working, forcing the fire department to haul in water to fight the blaze.
Police have reported the fire was started by a man now accused of attacking an ex-girlfriend, barricading himself in the apartment building and firing multiple shots before ultimately setting the apartment building on fire. The man, 30-year-old Logan Browning, is now charged with arson, assault and wanton endangerment of police officers, as well as multiple other counts.
Richmond Fire Chief Sam Kirby said Monday that if the fire department had had access to water from working hydrants, they could have beaten the fire faster and saved more of the building.
Residents and the fire department are asking why the hydrants weren’t operational, especially considering the fact that the hydrants at this location caused issues at a 2019 fireat the exact same apartment complex.
“I just wish they'd get those hydrants working because it's not cost us a life yet,” Kirby said. “But I mean, how far are we willing to press the issue there?”
The fire department would have likely been able to put out the fire before it reached a third apartment had they not had to stop intermittently to wait for water, Kirby said.
“It was really, really frustrating watching that fire go across that attic and not be able to do anything about it,” Kirby said.
Ashleigh Rose, whose apartment was destroyed in the overnight fire, said she has questions.
“Why didn't the fire hydrants work?” Rose said Monday. “All of us still could have had a place to live and now there's four families and lots of children that have nothing now.”
The fire hydrants in question are owned by the Madison County Utilities District, which acknowledged Monday in a statement that they had two hydrants in the area that were scheduled for repair.
Their full statement was as follows:
“For a small utility like Madison County Utilities with limited staff and resources, hydrant maintenance is a collaborative effort. MCUD works with both the Madison County Fire Department and the Richmond Fire Department to inspect and service the hydrants. The fire departments inspect the hydrants and notify the utility which hydrants aren’t functioning properly. MCUD then makes any necessary repairs. Two of the hydrants near the area of the Richmond Manor apartments are currently scheduled to be repaired.
Like everyone else, MCUD has suffered from a labor shortage losing over half of its field staff in the last 18 months. Identifying and repairing water leaks, correcting service interruptions and new service requests must all be handled before repairs can be made to the hydrants. Madison County Utilities appreciates the importance of fire protection and prioritizes the repair of the hydrants as much as possible. Madison County Utilities will continue to work closely with the local fire departments to be sure they are aware of which hydrants may be used for fire protection and which hydrants are not available so they may respond appropriately in the future.”