Detroit fire fighters battle a blaze, elements and broken hydrants at morning blaze

Scrappers steal brass from fire hydrants

DETROIT (WXYZ) - There were tense moments in Detroit as fire fighters battled an early morning blaze on the city's west side. It began inside a vacant house that was dangerously close to an occupied home.

Along with the fire they had to contend with freezing cold temperatures and, if that wasn't enough to deal with, there was trouble finding a working hydrant.

The closest hydrant, which was only about a half block away, had a sign on it that said 'Out of Order.' It appears the brass threads, where crews would connect their hoses, were missing.

Fire fighters say it's a growing problem.

The hydrants are iron and so are the caps that seal them. But the threads that connect the two, the same threads that crews use to connect their hoses, are made of brass.

They say scrappers are stealing them, which makes an already difficult job even tougher.  

So crews moved on to the next hydrant, but there was a problem with that one too. It didn't have adequate pressure. Crews say it's possible the line was partially frozen but they wouldn't rule out some other mechanical problem.

So, they moved on to the third hydrant. All the while the fire continued to burn, threatening the home next to it.

The third time must have the charm because that one did work. Armed with water and good pressure fire fighters made short work of the blaze. No one was hurt and the home next to the structure that burned was saved with nearly no damage.

But that may not be the case next time. With a fire department faced with staffing cuts and an increasing amount of work, the situation will most likely get worse before it gets better. 

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