Water issues, downed lines pose problems at Ross Street fire

Tiffany Wegworth captured this scene firefighters attempting to douse a house fire on Ross Street Thursday, from her home across the river on Maple Ave.

GRAFTON—As Taylor County still sat under a conserve water advisory, the Grafton Fire Department was toned out to a structure fire on Ross Street at approximately 1:15 p.m., on Thursday.

Not only would the department have to work around water issues and a breezy day, but downed power lines became problematic while they worked to extinguish the flames.

“We were toned out for structure fire at 237 Ross Street. The initial call was a house fire with a male on the second floor who had escaped onto the roof, but was stuck due to heavy flames,” said Grafton Fire Department Chief Ryan Roberts.

He said that upon arrival, Grafton firefighters witnessed neighbors providing a ladder to the homeowner, who was able to safely exit the home, with at least one of his dogs.

“At that point in time, we set up and began our attack,” Roberts explained. “We had to utilize tankers and a drop tank to shuttle water to the scene, as we were unable to draw water from hydrants because of the current conserve water advisory.”

He said that had the crews on scene used the hydrants, they would have depleted the county’s water supply in no time, causing issues for residents, as well as the issuance of a boil water advisory.

And in an effort to obtain water to battle the blaze, firefighters drew water from the homeowner’s pool.

“With the help of various other departments, we were able to keep water coming to the scene of the fire,” Roberts disclosed. “At no point were we ever out of water.”

As the fire raged on, tankers from Grafton, Bunner’s Ridge, Fellowsville, Flemington and Nutter Fort Fire Departments continued to make trips to the city park, where a pumper drew water from the river to fill the apparatuses.

“Due to the heavy flames when we arrived, we began an aerial attack with our ladder truck,” Roberts shared.

But that wouldn’t be the only reason the department would have to depend on the deck gun of Truck 101.

“As we battle the blaze, downed power lines crossed over our hoses, so we were unable to use them until Mon Power could arrive to cut their power,” Roberts revealed.

And after working the scene for nearly seven hours the flames were finally extinguished. However, a rekindle shortly after 9:00 p.m. had crews back on scene.

“We were then called back over around 3:00 a.m. for another rekindle, and then at 9:00 a.m. we were alerted to another smoke investigation as the embers began to reignite,” Roberts noted.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation, however Roberts said that he believed it to have started at the back of the home and quickly made its way to the attic.

While surrendering to the flames, the home collapsed into itself, and has been deemed a complete loss.

And while conditions seemed to be stacked against the fire crews working so hard to battle the blaze, Roberts voiced that he was happy to report that there were no injuries sustained during the incident.

The Grafton Police Department shut down High Street during the incident to allow the tankers to more easily make their rotation to bring water to the scene, and the Taylor County Emergency Squad was also on hand to assist firefighters if needed. 

In addition to lending a tanker, an engine crew from Bunner’s Ridge Fire Department covered the Grafton station while crews were on scene.

“I would just like to extend my appreciation and gratitude to all of the surrounding departments that came to our aid,” Roberts expressed. “We were up against less than ideal conditions, but with their help, we were able to contain the fire to just the one structure.”

Tiffany Wegworth captured this scene firefighters attempting to douse a house fire on Ross Street Thursday, from her home across the river on Maple Ave.

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