DETROIT (WXYZ) — Willie Baker, Jr was asleep when Detroit firefighters banged on his door and told him to get out. A raging fire had broken out in an abandoned house next door and was burning his. The fire also spread to a third abandoned house.
This all happened at 7 am on St. Clair Street near Mack on the east side.
As the fire burned for several minutes the water pressure dropped in the first line connected to the first hydrant across the street.
Deputy Fire Commissioner Dave Fornell met 7 Action News on the scene and told us what happened and what was not supposed to happen.
Commissioner Fornell says the fire in the occupied house was out when the water pressure dropped. He says that happened when a second hose was connected to a second hydrant a block down and the hydrant was opened.
Palencia Mobley is Deputy Director of the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department. She tells 7 Action News the pressure drop is under investigation.
In 2015, 7 Action News first showed you major problems with non-working fire hydrants just as the city was getting through bankruptcy. The water system is more than a century old.
But the city has developed a new system to keep track of non-working hydrants. They are mapped on an app that fire crews can see when they pull up to a fire. Working hydrants are green. They are black if they are out of service.
Mobley says the system was developed under her watch and has made a big difference.
We walked through Willie Baker’s house. He’s going to have to decide if he’s going to repair the fire, smoke, and water damage with his insurance company or just walk away.
He also kept an eye on the vacant house next door. The cause of that fire is not known. Baker says it was set to be demolished soon. But not soon enough.